Court ruling in Reggie Bush case could lead to depositions

An appellate court ruling in a long-running lawsuit against Reggie Bush opens the door for Bush and USC Coach Pete Carroll to be questioned about whether the running back received cash and gifts while playing for the Trojans.

The decision, released Monday, represents the latest development in a suit brought by would-be sports marketer Lloyd Lake, who claims he gave cash and gifts to Bush and his family beginning around late 2004.

The state court upheld an earlier decision blocking an attempt by Bush’s attorneys to force the suit into confidential arbitration.

“This will play out in open court for the public to see,” said Brian Watkins, who is Lake’s attorney.

Watkins said that he hopes to schedule depositions for Bush, Carroll and Bush’s parents as soon as possible.

But an attorney for the New Orleans Saints running back said that he plans to seek a summary judgment dismissing the case.

“We deny there was ever any agreement and we deny [Lake] made any payments,” lawyer Jeremiah Reynolds said. “There’s no evidence to show any of that.”

Even if there were an agreement, Reynolds said, it would have been illegal under the Miller-Ayala Act, a state law that limits how sports agents can interact with student-athletes.

Lake and a former business partner, Michael Michaels, tried to woo Bush as a client, allegedly by providing a house where his family lived without paying rent, $13,000 the player used to purchase a 1996 Chevrolet Impala he drove while attending USC, and other benefits.

Michaels settled out of court with Bush but could also be deposed.

The NCAA has been looking into the matter since it came to light in early 2006. It is one of several investigations directed at USC.

The athletic department has come under scrutiny for allegations that former basketball player O.J. Mayo also received improper benefits while in school.

And earlier this month, The Times reported that current tailback Joe McKnight had been seen driving a 2006 Land Rover owned by a Santa Monica businessman, which may have constituted an NCAA violation.