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Canseco Brothers Found Liable in Suit Over Fight

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Former baseball star Jose Canseco and twin Ozzie were found liable Monday in a lawsuit by two men whom the brothers were accused of beating up at a Miami Beach nightclub in 2001.

A jury awarded Christian Presley and Alan Cheeks more than $700,000 in compensatory damages and left open the possibility of punitive damages. The panel of four men and two women reached the verdict after deliberating two days.

Presley had sought $1 million and Cheeks $500,000 in compensatory damages for their injuries as well as emotional scars from the fight at Opium Garden club. The Halloween brawl started after Presley accosted Jose Canseco’s date.

The jury awarded Presley $232,308 for injuries it said were caused by Jose Canseco. Cheeks got $506,600 for injuries, with 10% of the blame on Jose Canseco and 90% on Ozzie Canseco, the jury found. The jury said neither brother acted in self-defense. A hearing on possible punitive damages was set for today.

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The Cansecos declined to comment and didn’t appear to show emotion after the verdict, but their lawyer, Robert Saunooke, said: “This is a very bad message to the young women in Miami. If you go out to a club in Miami, be prepared to be assaulted.”

Pro Football

Several USC players have agreed to terms with NFL teams on free-agent contracts.

All-American linebacker Matt Grootegoed and defensive back Kevin Arbet are expected to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, fullback Lee Webb and receiver Jason Mitchell with the Jacksonville Jaguars, offensive lineman John Drake and tight end Alex Holmes with the Miami Dolphins, safety Jason Leach with the San Diego Chargers and kicker Ryan Killeen with the Detroit Lions.

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There were three UCLA players who agreed to terms as free agents. Offensive guard Steven Vieira is expected to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals, punter Chris Kluwe with the Seattle Seahawks and cornerback Matt Clark with the New Orleans Saints.

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The Detroit Lions released receiver Az-Zahir Hakim and free safety Brock Marion, and signed defensive tackle Brandon Kennedy to a one-year deal.

Hakim became expendable when the Lions drafted former USC standout Mike Williams and signed Kevin Johnson last week. Marion probably will be replaced by third-year pro Terrence Holt.

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University of Miami quarterback Brock Berlin agreed to terms of a free-agent contract with the Miami Dolphins, the player’s agent, David Dunn, said.

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University of Tennessee offensive tackle Michael Munoz decided to quit football after he was not chosen in the NFL draft over the weekend, his father, NFL Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz said.

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The All-American started 46 games in his career despite injuries, including a torn rotator cuff that ended his senior year before the Southeastern Conference championship game in December.

Anthony Munoz said his son has not yet decided what he plans to do.

Miscellany

Former Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay guard Steve Courson, who acknowledged that steroids caused him serious health problems, was among those added to the witness list for Wednesday’s congressional hearing on the use of steroids in the NFL.

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Courson, who played for the Steelers and Buccaneers from 1978 to ’85, has been an anti-steroid campaigner since he retired. He blamed a heart condition on his steroid use.

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University of Washington guard Brandon Roy, who helped the Huskies to the Pacific 10 Conference basketball tournament title, said he would return to school for his senior season.

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Duke’s Shelden Williams, the Atlantic Coast Conference defensive player of the year, said he would return for his senior year.

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University of Washington assistant Ken Bone was hired as the new basketball coach at Portland State, taking over a program that won 19 games and the Big Sky Conference regular-season title last season.

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Churchill Downs is instituting tougher drug testing only weeks before the Kentucky Derby, requiring pre-race blood tests used to detect stamina-enhancing “milkshake” concoctions.

Every horse entered in races during Churchill Downs’ spring meet (April 30 to July 10) will be tested. Failure to comply will result in the horse being scratched from the race and will count as a violation of the policy.

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Vancouver Canuck forward Todd Bertuzzi, whose blindside punch to Steve Moore’s head nearly 14 months ago may have permanently knocked the Colorado Avalanche player out of hockey, will meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman today in hope of being reinstated to the league.

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French Open tennis champion Gaston Gaudio saved a match point and went on to beat Jan Hernych of the Czech Republic, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-0, in the first round of the Estoril Open at Oeiras, Portugal.

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Paulo Autori agreed to quit as coach of the Peruvian national soccer team, an unexpected departure by “mutual agreement” with the country’s soccer federation only days after his salary became public and he refused to testify before a congressional committee investigating the federation’s finances.

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