Shaquille O'Neal Kidnapping Case: Appeals Court Won't Revive Argument by Record Label Partner

The fact that Shaq played for other teams than the L.A. Lakers doesn't beat statute of limitations requirements.
Shaq

Shaquille O'Neal has just scored a success, although not the type of one that most people might expect from the future NBA Hall of Famer.

Two years ago, the TNT basketball analyst was able to beat in court a man by the name of Robert Ross, who allegedly struck an oral agreement in 2007 whereby Ross would bring singers and other musical artists to Shaq's record label in return for 50 percent of the subsequent profits. As the story goes, Ross then demanded money when one of the singers, Ray J, hit it big, and after Shaq refused to pay up, Ross told Shaq he possessed a sex tape that showed him with a mistress.

So allegedly, Shaq directed members of a gang to kidnap Ross in order to obtain the sex tape. Here's the full story of what purportedly happened and why a judge refused to entertain it. In short, the lawsuit was barred by statute of limitations.

On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the decision.

As the appeals court notes, Ross' "only shot of success on appeal" is to convince the Ninth Circuit that the statute of limitations was tolled pursuant to section 351 of the California Code of Civil Procedure, which basically means the clock doesn't start ticking for a would-be defendant who is not in California.

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As a professional basketball player, O'Neal often wasn't in California for obvious reasons.

Ross pointed to the fact that Shaq played for the Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics during his career (on top of the eight seasons and three championships he enjoyed as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers).

The appeals court isn't impressed with that argument.

"Requiring a National Basketball Association player who is engaged in interstate commerce to be physically present in California places a substantial burden on interstate commerce," says the Ninth Circuit court. "O’Neal’s injuries and playing time are legally irrelevant; even if it was physically possible for him to be in California on certain days, forcing him to do so would still constitute a burden on interstate commerce."

The judges add that it was possible for Ross to have served O’Neal pursuant to California’s long-arm statute. Because he didn't, it hardly matters whether or not O'Neal hired a gang to kidnap his a man who had his sex tape. And it didn't matter either whether or not O'Neal really owed Ross money from the success of Ray J, who himself became famous for a Kim Kardashian sex tape.

The appeals court rules that the lawsuit was properly dismissed because it was untimely. Shaq was represented by Michael Kump and Jonathan Steinsapir at Kinsella Weitzman.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner

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