Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Fight Has Just Begun - In the Courts and Not the Ring by John Bardelli

Special From John Bardelli

Several have sent me articles discussing the entry of Michael Baden, M.D., into the picture precipitating Arturo Gatti's body being exhumed and a second autopsy having been undertaken. The media is abuzz - Gatti's legion of fans lining up as though, somehow, sensing that a report is going to put Amanda Rodrigues away for life. There is a frenzy about the rabid name calling directed to Amanda Rodrigues which was brought on by the psychological concept of primacy when the Brazilian police prematurely stated that Amanda Rodrigues was responsible for the death of Arturo Gatti. Psychological primacy is the principal that what is first heard is most often believed and it becomes a irrefutable governing fact. Now, those exposed and believing have their hopes lifted by headlines which boldly declare and assert --- Baden Autopsy Does Not Rule Out Gatti Murder --- the headlines scream coast to coast and worldwide.

I was earlier alerted to Baden's being hired and sniffed it out for what it is. Regardless, make no mistake about it. Baden or no Baden, rule of primacy or no rule of primacy, Arturo Gatti committed suicide --- its that simple.

Now that pathologist Michael Baden, M.D., is involved - controversy is guaranteed - forever - and that controversy has an avowed purpose behind it. Baden was or is the chief forensic pathologist for the New York City Police Department. As far as I know, he is not conducting this examination at the expense of or on behalf of the citizens of the state of New York or for the New York City Police Department or for any other governmental entity. Most likely, he has been privately engaged and just who is footing the bill and the amount he is charging for his engagement is unknown at the present time. And why, might one ask, was he engaged at all?

There is a lot going on behind the scenes, legal maneuverings of a kind and nature which have not been, to my knowledge, disclosed anywhere ... either on line in cyber space or within any specific media coverage. When analyzed from the prospects of a civil litigant, it is apparent what is transpiring. At the outset, let us assume as one scenario, that Arturo Gatti left no Last Will and Testament. When one has no Last Will and Testament and that person dies, it is said that he/she dies "intestate." To die "intestate" simply means that the decedent left no Last Will and Testament. When that happens, his state of domicile or residence at the time of death, through statutory enactments, writes the Last Will and Testament for the decedent.

One of the arguments advanced by a Gatti family member, or one linked to Arturo Gatti through boxing ties, against the contention that Gatti committed suicide is that Gatti had millions of dollars in the bank and in investments. Ergo, we are supposed to believe that rich people don't commit suicide. That may be true and I assume that there is less of an incentive to take one's life when the accounts are filled. However, people commit suicide for multiple reasons --- rich or poor and for better and for worse. Regardless, let us assume that Gatti does have millions set aside. Who does that estate, i.e., those millions, pass to upon his death under the fact scenario of his having left no Will?

In New York and New Jersey, when a person dies without having left a Last Will and Testament, the intestate laws provide that the estate of the decedent passes (1) to the surviving spouse and, if no surviving spouse then to (2) surviving children, and if no spouse or children, then to (3) surviving parent(s), and if no spouse, children, or parents, then to (4) brothers and/or sisters (siblings), and beyond. At the forefront, note it is Amanda Rodrigues who stands first in line to inherit Arturo Gatti's estate and the Gatti family are in arms and vocal about that prospect..

If Gatti were to have died from natural causes or committed suicide, at first glance, Gatti's estate would pass to Amanda Rodrigues as Gatti's surviving spouse by operation of law. However, both New York and New Jersey have enacted "slayer statutes" which provide that a "slayer" cannot inherit from the estate of one slain nor be the beneficiary under a life insurance policy of the person so slain. Ergo, if it is established that Amanda Rodrigues is determined by a court proceeding to be "a slayer" as defined in the applicable statute, then she personally cannot inherit any portion of Gatti's estate either through the estate laws nor the insurance beneficiary laws. Consequently, one has to ask: Is there is a need to establish a "slayer" who meets the definition of Amanda Rodrigues or she will inherit the entirety of Gatti's estate and his life insurance proceeds if she is named as the beneficiary? If the Gatti family seek to prevent Amanda Rodrigues from becoming the sole beneficiary of Arturo Gatti's Estate, and she presently is in that position, most assuredly, if Gatti died intestate, one mechanism to prevent that from becoming a reality is to have her declared a "slayer" within the confines of applicable law. The answer to the posed question is, most assuredly, there is a need to have Amanda Rodrigues declared a "slayer."

I presume, in large measure, once Baden's report concludes that Gatti was murdered, the anti-thesis to one having committed suicide, then you will also see litigation simultaneously commenced as follows: (1) probate initiated where the administrator of Gatti's estate seeks to have Amanda Rodrigues declared a "slayer" thereby precluding her from inheriting any portion of Gatti's estate and (2) a custody action which seeks to deprive Amanda Rodrigues of custody of their son, Arturo, Jr., because as one of two surviving Arturo Gatti children, those children stand next in line to inherit once the Administrator can secure a court order which declares Amanda Rodrigues as a "slayer." Unless she challenges that finding, whoever has custody of Gatti's son will control at least 50% of his estate and the Gatti family, again, have been very is vocal that they intend to seek custody of Arturo, Jr.

I am sure that Gatti's family will do what it can do, as well, to preclude Gatti's daughter Sofia from inheriting her 50% of the estate. The Gatti family is at odds with Erika Rivera, a one time fiance of Arturo Gatti, the woman who Gatti referred to the public at large as "Satin's daughter," and worse, during their tumultuous relationship. From Ms. Rivera's perspective, their troubles grew in large measure because Arturo Gatti, though the acknowledged father of Sofia, did not want to pay support money to Ms. Rivera and she brought into play the Courts, much to Arturo Gatti's displeasure. However, it appears that Gatti's brother is on somewhat better terms with Erika than the rest of the Gatti family but when it all is cut, sliced, and examined, blood is thicker than water and whichever way the Gatti Family is drifting, one can be assured it will be with unanimity.

It is highly likely that Baden's engagement is no different than scenarios where unfortunate employees who are injured during the course of their employment. In the majority of instances when that happens, and a claim is thereafter made against the Department of Labor and Industries or Workers Compensation for any given state, the state puts the injured worked through a litany of medical examinations by doctors engaged as so-called "independent examiners" whereupon an unsuspecting worker, believing initially that a doctor would not lie about a worker's injuries and health, soon learns that the meaning of "independent" and "physician" are strange and twisted beyond all measure. Questions to be asked of individuals such as Michael Baden, M.D., and those "independent examiners" who, in reality, are hired guns, include: How much money do you make doing forensic examinations when hired by private parties during the course of the past 10 years and how many times did your report favor the party who hired you versus the adverse party and specific requests for written documentation in confirmation of the answer rendered must be sought as well.

Anyone subjected to the process, understands immediately the import of the message I seek to convey. As physicians, one would think they were honorable people engaged in the pursuit of truth and justice. Au contraire, as one suddenly learns at great expense and delay. These hired guns were engaged to create controversy and to force a settlement at the injured worker's overall expense. What the worker went through is being played out literally thousands of times a day in this country. I strongly suspect that it is being played out again through the engagement of Baden as well. And there is no intent to denigrate Michael Baden, M.D., as it may be that he has the best intentions of conducting an examination which is truly elevated to the concept of justice rather than for partisanship purposes. Who knows in this instance what his report will reveal? The proof is in the pudding.

Will Baden's report convince me otherwise as to what transpired in Brazil? I won't close my eyes to his conclusions and the report, in general, but it will not serve to change my analysis as to what transpired. It appears that the fight has just begun. This fight, however, pits the Gatti family against Amanda Rodrigues. This is not what Arturo Gatti would have wanted. This is not how Arturo Gatti wanted to be remembered.

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