Sunday, May 11, 2008

Israel baseball's Baras asks court to dismiss suit

With the dream of professional baseball in Israel crushed for the summer of 2008, fans are asking us why no one has sued Israel Baseball League founder and director Larry Baras over the more than one million dollars in debts the Boston bagel baron left behind when he hightailed it back to the States even before the final out was called (he left in the middle of the game and didn't stick around for the trophy ceremony).

While we hear that one Boston-based vendor has initiated proceedings, the lawsuit that caused the IBL crumble after we reported it, was back in court in Boston.

Natalie Blacher was an investor in Baras’ UnHoley Bagel (a bagel stuffed with cream cheese). In September 2007, she sued Baras in federal court for securities fraud, claiming that he used her $275,000 bagel investment for “his personal living expenses or expenses which should be charged to IBL.”

Now Baras’ attorneys filed a motion to have the suit dismissed. “My legal eagle tells me they moved to dismiss the case, saying that the allegations of the suit themselves do not make out a prima facie case,” Our Man Elli in Israel tells us, using a fancy Latin phrase. “The judge didn't rule on that yet-- and given the scheduling order, the scent in the air is that he won't dismiss the case-- although it is possible. The fact that the court required discovery to be taken means that the judge wants the case to either be teed up for summary judgment-- which means that if there's no disputing what the material facts are, the court can rule on the law. Or, if the court determines there are material questions of fact, it will be sent to trial.”

The judge has ordered that parties involved be deposed, including Baras, Blacher— as well as "the accountant for SJR Foods, Inc. (the UhHoley Bagelmakers), and a “representative of the Israel Baseball League.”

Baras has been laying low since the scandal hit the fans, surfacing to reminisce about ballpark franks with his local Jewish newspaper— whose reporter, most interestingly, did not grill him about the big story at hand.

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