A US appeals court sided with Cristiano Ronaldo on Tuesday, rejecting an appeal by the lawyer against a woman who is trying to force the international football star to pay millions more than the $375,000 (£299,385) in hush money he paid her after she accused him of accused her of raping her. in 2009.
Kathryn Mayorga’s attorney had asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a federal judge’s dismissal in the Las Vegas case in June 2022 and reopen the civil lawsuit she filed in 2018.
They argued that U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey should not have rejected Mayorga’s efforts to unseal and make public the confidentiality agreement she signed in 2010 when accepting payments from Ronaldo.
A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based appeals court disagreed. It also rejected their argument that the judge abused her discretion by dismissing the case with prejudice, preventing Mayorga from refiling the case, and took the unusual step of imposing a fine of $335,000 (£267,450 ) to her attorney, Leslie Mark Stovall.
“The court clearly recognized the seriousness of dismissing the case and accordingly provided a thorough analysis amply supported by factual findings,” Judge Johnnie Rawlinson wrote in the six-page opinion on Tuesday.
An American judge has sided with Cristiano Ronaldo by rejecting the appeal of Kathryn Mayorga’s lawyer in Las Vegas.
Mayorga (pictured with Ronaldo in 2009) claimed the player raped her in a Las Vegas hotel room – which Ronaldo has consistently denied
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Mayorga, through her attorneys, including Stovall, gave permission for her name to be made public.
Ronaldo is one of the most recognizable and richest athletes in the world. He manages the national team of his home country Portugal and has played for Spanish team Real Madrid, Italian club Juventus and Manchester United in England. He now plays for the Saudi Arabian professional team Al Nassr.
In dismissing the Nevada case, Dorsey chastised Stovall for “bad faith,” saying he improperly tried to use documents leaked or stolen in a cyberattack to advance Mayorga’s case.
Stovall told the 9th Circuit panel during oral arguments in October that Mayorga was not bound by the confidentiality agreement because Ronaldo or his associates had violated it before German news channel Der Spiegel published an article in April 2017 titled “Cristiano Ronaldo’s Secret,” based on documents obtained from ‘the whistleblowing portal Football Leaks.’
Las Vegas police reopened a rape investigation after Mayorga’s lawsuit was filed, but Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson decided not to pursue criminal charges in 2019. He said too much time had passed and there was no evidence to prove Mayorga’s accusation before a jury.
Mayorga, a former teacher and model from the Las Vegas area, was 25 when she met Ronaldo at a nightclub in 2009 and went with him and other people to his hotel suite. She claims in her lawsuit filed nearly a decade later that the then 24-year-old football star sexually assaulted her in a bedroom.
Ronaldo maintained through his lawyers that the sex was consensual and that the confidentiality agreement reached in 2010 was valid. Stovall acknowledged that Mayorga received the $375,000.
Mayorga’s lawsuit alleged conspiracy, defamation, breach of contract, coercion and fraud. By the time Dorsey dismissed the case, Stovall claimed Mayorga should receive damages of more than $25 million (£19.9 million).
Tuesday’s 9th Circuit ruling noted that the 2010 settlement “flagged until 2017, when… ‘Football Leaks’ released hundreds of documents through a cyber hack of Ronaldo’s former lawyers.”
“Despite the settlement and confidentiality agreement between Ronaldo and Mayorga, Stovall sought and used documents from ‘Football Leaks’ – including those clearly marked as attorney-client privilege – to pursue new legal action against Ronaldo on Mayorga’s behalf,” the statement said. the court.
Mayorga’s lawyer Leslie Stovall was given a stiff fine, an unusual step by the court
The journalist behind ‘Football Leaks’ Rui Pinto is currently on trial in Paris for allegedly hacking Paris Saint-Germain
Judge Dorsey “correctly found that Ronaldo did not waive or otherwise forfeit his claim to attorney-client privilege with respect to the ‘Football Leaks’ documents,” the report said.
The appellate judges specifically rejected Stoval’s argument that Ronaldo had failed to adequately secure the documents.
“Before the breach, his lawyers used cybersecurity tools to protect their files,” the ruling said. “As the court noted, Ronaldo erroneously followed the route of ‘navigating this unorthodox situation’, which had long before been initiated by the ‘principled conduct’ of Mayorga’s counsel, and subsequently made strong efforts to protect the documents.”
“The court did not abuse its discretion when it found that a sanction terminating the case was appropriate,” the ruling said.