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Angels file claim to dismiss lawsuit by former employee Bubba Harkins

Fans enter Angel Stadium prior to a game.
(Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

The Angels and Major League Baseball filed a motion in Orange County Superior Court on Monday to dismiss a complaint by former team employee Brian Harkins, who alleged that he was made a “public scapegoat” in baseball’s efforts to crack down on the use of foreign substances.

Harkins, nicknamed “Bubba,” spent four decades with the Angels and was the visiting clubhouse attendant when he was fired last March after the team learned through an MLB investigation that he was providing a blend of sticky substances — known as “Go-Go Juice” — to visiting pitchers to aid their grip of the baseball.

Harkins’ suit, filed Aug. 28 by attorneys Daniel L. Rasmussen and Matthew K. Brown, listed defamation and “false light” as causes of action against the Angels and MLB.

Mookie Betts is a finalist for the National League Most Valuable Award along with the Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman and the San Diego Padres’ Manny Machado.

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The complaint claimed that Harkins “never distributed an illegal substance” to anyone, that he was unfamiliar with the term “Go-Go Juice,” and that he did not sell it as a money-making venture.

Attorneys Nicholas D. Marais and Ann Niehaus of the San Francisco firm of Keker, Van Nest & Peters, LLP, retained by the Angels and MLB, assert that the claims constitute a strategic lawsuit against public participation — known as a “SLAPP suit — and that any written or oral statements made by the team and MLB in a public forum about Harkins are protected by First Amendment rights.

Hearings on the motion to dismiss the complaint are scheduled for Jan. 21 and Feb. 4 in Orange County Superior Court.


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