NEW YORK -- A Florida man involved last year in an accident
with a Porsche driven by oft-injured Carl Pavano has sued the New York Yankees pitcher for injuries allegedly sustained in the crash,
which the player initially tried to hide from the team.
Ernest DeLaura, 47, also named the Yankees as a defendant when
he filed the lawsuit two months ago in Bronx state Supreme Court.
Although the suit was brought in New York, DeLaura lives in Port
St. Lucie, Fla., and the accident occurred in West Palm Beach, Fla.
DeLaura sought an unspecified amount of money in the lawsuit,
which requested a default judgment of $5 million if Pavano and the
Yankees failed to answer the complaint. DeLaura has already
undergone shoulder surgery and faces a possible operation on his
neck, said his lawyer, Paul Edelman.
Pavano was scratched from his scheduled spring training start
Friday night in Tampa, Fla., against the Devil Rays. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Pavano didn't ask for permission to leave, but was told to do so by manager Joe Torre. Pavano's personal matter was not thought to be a physical ailment.
"He's somewhere he should be right now," Cashman said. "He
really doesn't need to be here tonight. It's something that just came up right before game time and Joe let him go and rightfully so."
It's possible Pavano could rejoin the team on Saturday.
"He'll return here soon," Cashman said. "When he returns, to the degree he wants, he will address it or not."
The right-hander allowed one run in two innings during his first
spring training start on March 4. The outing came eight days after
his left instep was bruised by a line drive during batting
Pavano, starting the third season of a $39.95 million, four-year
contract, hasn't pitched in the major leagues since June 27, 2005,
due to shoulder, back, buttocks, elbow and rib injuries.
The lawsuit charged that Pavano was "careless, reckless and
negligent" while driving his 2006 Porsche last Aug. 15. Pavano was
pitching in the minor leagues as he prepared for a return to the
Yankees when the accident occurred.
Pavano didn't initially tell the team about the accident, and
made three rehabilitation starts before seeking medical attention
and discovering that he sustained two broken ribs in the crash.
"We're aware of the action," Pavano's agent, Gregg Clifton,
said Friday. "We will defend this case to the utmost."
Clifton said Pavano might seek to move the lawsuit from the
Bronx to Florida if DeLaura presses the case.
Yankees spokesman Ben Tuliebitz said it was team policy not to
comment on legal matters.
DeLaura was sitting at a stop sign when Pavano's Porsche
hydroplaned, sending the sports car sailing into his
tractor-trailer, the lawsuit said. At the time, a police report was
issued saying Pavano was at fault in the accident, but there was no
record of the pitcher receiving a ticket.
According to the lawsuit, DeLaura sustained "severe and
permanent personal injuries."