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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A player suing ex-major leaguer Jose Offerman for a bat-wielding attack at a minor league baseball game in 2007 says Offerman has repeatedly failed to show up for depositions to provide testimony as the case heads to trial.
Ex-Bridgeport Bluefish catcher John Nathans objected in court papers Monday to a move by Offerman to remove a default against him, saying Offerman has willfully failed to defend the case.
"It would seem that despite the fact that he is in default status, he has shown no interest in actually defending the case," wrote Nathans' attorney, J. Craig Smith. "Quite simply, in the five years since this case was filed, Jose Offerman has not taken a single material step to respond to the complaint or to legitimate discovery requests."
Offerman's attorney, Frank Riccio II, said scheduling a deposition has been difficult because Offerman lives in the Dominican Republic. He said he intends to submit to a deposition and defend the case.
A default is a finding that a defendant has failed to comply with court rules. If the default is kept in place, Offerman will not be able to challenge his liability but only the amount of damages, attorneys for both sides said.
A trial is set to start next month.
Offerman was playing for the minor league Long Island Ducks in August 2007 when he was hit by a pitch and charged the mound during a game against the Bluefish in Bridgeport. Nathans and pitcher Matt Beech were both hurt.
Nathans suffered a head injury that ended his career and Beech broke the middle finger on his non-throwing hand. Nathans filed a $4.8 million lawsuit against Offerman and the Long Island Ducks, which denies any responsibility for Offerman's attack.
Offerman said last year while living in the Dominican Republic he was not trying to avoid the federal lawsuit.
Riccio's father, Frank Riccio, who died last year, withdrew from the case in 2010, saying Offerman refused to discuss the case with him and hadn't paid him.
Offerman was charged with felony assault but his defense disputed that he struck the players with his bat. He was granted a probation program that resulted in the charges being dismissed and ordered to get anger management treatment.
Offerman has been working for the Licey Tigers, a winter league team he managed before throwing a punch at an umpire during a 2010 argument on a baseball field. Offerman was banned from the Dominican winter league after his 2010 attack on the umpire, but the ruling was overturned in 2012 after he got psychological treatment.
Offerman was an All-Star infielder with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 and the Boston Red Sox in 1999.