Some 18 months after tennis star Eugenie Bouchard filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Tennis Association in the wake of the concussion sustained in a locker-room incident Sept. 4, things are heating up.
After changes of judge, multiple extensions, and failed attempts to settle the case via mediation, Bouchard lawyer Benedict Morelli is going on the offence.
Friday, the Morelli law firm filed a letter requesting leave to file a motion accusing the USTA of destroying crucial security-camera footage. This, despite “having been notified well in advance to preserve it”. It seeks a sanction of “adverse interference.”
Here’s the relevant passage in Morelli’s letter, filed to the court.
Morelli states that in a December letter, the USTA stated that security footage was only preserved for 160 days, and no additional footage from the night of Sept. 4 currently exists. Morelli claims that during a Nov. 30, 2016 deposition of WTA trainer Eva Scheumann, it “became clear” that addition security-camera footage existed that would help Bouchard’s case.
Here is the statement from the USTA rebutting the charge, per Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal.
“The USTA is confident that it preserved all documents, footage and other materials requested by Mr. Morelli at the time he advised us of Ms. Bouchard’s claim. Other than that, the USTA followed its standard retention policies, which make it impossible to accommodate an additional request that came more than 14 months after the original notice.
The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is a 43 acre facility with numerous cameras throughout the site. Although there are no cameras in the women’s locker room, the USTA did preserve all footage that it reasonably believed could be relevant to her claim and in accordance with her counsel’s preservation request.”
The Canadian sports network TSN reported last week that since mediation failed to resolve the case, things would continue to move forward, potentially culminating in a trial beginning during or just after the 2017 US Open.
The news breaks just as the $80,000 ITF tournament in Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. announced that Bouchard had accepted a wild card into its event next week.