Law student who sued Ryan Braun tries to save case in court

Ryan Braun's  former childhood and college friend, who is now suing the Milwaukee Brewers slugger for defamation, appeared in a Milwaukee courtroom Friday to argue why his lawsuit shouldn't be dismissed.

Ralph Sasson, a law student, appeared pro se -- acting as his own attorney -- against attorneys for Braun and and Creative Arts Agency, which represented Braun in business and contract deals,  who have asked that Circuit Judge Paul Van Grunsven dismiss Sasson's complaint.

The aspiring lawyer dressed and sounded the part, but it remains to be seen if his the substance of his efforts work hold up to more experienced attack.

"Mr. Sasson has pleaded himself out of court," said Stephen Kravit, attorney for CCA. He called Sasson's complaint confusing, and questioned how it could possibly find the agency liable for something Sasson concedes its employee had no authority to do -- pay Sasson for work he did on Braun's behalf while he was under investigation for using performance enhancing drugs, then sign a release.

Sasson, dressed in a dark suit and a yellow tie, argued that Onesimo Balelo acted in the "course and scope" of his employment, and that CAA should be liable under a theory of "respondeat superior."

"He's just plain wrong," Kravit said.

Van Grunsven questioned Sasson why a key document -- the signed release - suggests he and Balelo signed it together before a notary in June, when it was actually signed in two different states before different notaries. Sasson tried to explain how documents were signed and sent between Milwaukee and California.

Sasson claims that after he and Balelo signed a release that neither side would speak poorly of the other, Sasson destroyed documents potentially damaging to Braun, but Braun then spoke ill of him to mutual friends and acquaintances.

Kravit asked that if Van Grunsven does not dismiss the complaint, he at least make Sasson re-plead his case with more particularity. "We need to plead to something, and this is a big mess," Kravit said.

Braun's California attorney, Jeremiah Reynolds, said Sasson engaged in the unlicensed practice of law in drawing up the settlement agreement and release.  "His attempt to enforce the non-disparagement clause is unenforceable," Reynolds said.

Reynolds also said Sasson's claims that Braun's supposedly defamatory statements - that Sasson had been rude to staff at Miller Park, and was crazy -- were not actionable and did not fit into the exceptions Sasson claims.

Sasson called Reynolds' unlicensed practice argument "a shining example of frivolousness,"  and explained why what he did would not run afoul of Wisconsin's unlicensed legal practice law.

Toward the end of the hearing, Van Grunsven asked Sasson to explain "in three sentences or less," his additional claim of action under "quantum meruit," a theory of recovery for services under an implied contract.

Sasson said he added the claim because if the contract is found not to be valid, he has no other recourse to seek compensation for destroying documents worth more than $1 million.

Sasson "humbly and respectfully" asked for yet another chance to amend his complaint, but Van Grunsen said the record on the motions to dismiss was closed, and that he would issue a decision next month.

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