☛ Two lawsuits settled over The American Rodeo 10-19-16
TWO LAWSUITS SETTLED REGARDING LAST YEAR’S THE AMERICAN RODEO PAYOUT
By Glory Ann Kurtz
Oct. 19, 2016
According to an Oct. 19, 2016 article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, two lawsuits over allegations that star calf ropers rigged during the 2015 The American Rodeo held in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, were dismissed this week with undisclosed settlements.
The dispute stemmed from the 2015 one-day event sponsored by RFD-TV, with the event offering prizes of $100,000 to winners of seven different rodeo competitions and featured a $1 million reward for cowboys who qualified for seven different events rather than those who were invited.
The Reese Riemer lawsuit:
On Feb. 23, 2015, Reese Riemer, a tie-down roper from Stinnett, Texas, filed a lawsuit against RFD-TV in the Northern District of Texas Amarillo Division for failing to pay his winnings from the roping event held during the 2015 American Rodeo competition. The event had advertised that the winner of each event would be awarded $100,000 each, plus nearly $50,000 in prizes. Additionally if a qualifier won the event, against the invited contestants, who were the “best in the world,” he would be entitled to a share of a $1 million side pot.
It turned out that Riemer and Taylor Price, the first-place winner of the bareback riding competition, were both qualifiers who won their event and were eligible for a share of the $1 million side pot.
On March 3, 2015, K.C. Jones, a qualifier who tied with an invitational contestant in the steer-wrestling event, challenged The American rules regarding tie breakers. Randy Bernard, the CEO of RFD-TV, told Reese that RFD-TV agreed to pay K.C. Jones a share of the side pot and that $83,000 would be deducted from his winnings and from Taylor’s winnings. In a broadcast, Bernard claimed that he and Riemer agreed to allow K.C. Jones to take a piece of Riemer’s winnings; however, Riemer claims no such conversation took place. On March 4, 2015, Riemer was issued a check from RMG Events LLC for $517,000, reflecting the $83,000 deduction that RFD-TV awarded to K. C. Jones. The champion saddle was received by Riemer and a Polaris Ranger ATV was delivered to the Riemer Ranch.
The RFD-TV lawsuit:
Then on March 5, Patrick Gottsch, owner and founder of RFD-TV called Riemer and questioned Riemer about “rumors that the qualifiers in the tie-down roping competition had made a deal to split the bonus pool regardless of the outcome.” Riemer assured Gottsch no deal had been made; however, he was informed that a stop payment had been put on his check for $517,000 due to the rumors. According to the lawsuit, “Gottsch threatened Reese with prison time and told him to obtain a lawyer.”
The lawsuit by Riemer also claimed RFD-TV capitalized on Riemer’s name and likeness in the news media, including building up goodwill to promote the 2016 The American event, as well as a Breach of Contract seeking out-of-pocket damages and a judgment against the defendants in the amount of $600,000 plus attorney fees, pre-judgment interest at the maximum non-usurious rate, all taxable court costs, other relief justly entitled and demands a trial by jury.
In August, 2016, RFD-TV filed a lawsuit in Tarrant County Civil Court against Riemer (currently seventh in the PRCA standings; Timber Moore, at the time the top PRCA calf roper (currently he ranks second) and Tuf Cooper, a three-time PRCA world champion (currently a member of the Elite Rodeo Association and not the PRCA), outlining allegations of a “fix” at the 2015 rodeo with Riemer splitting his winnings with Cooper and Moore, if they would allow Riemer to win the roping finals. Riemer ended up winning, with Cooper finishing second and Moore finishing third.
According to the lawsuit the rodeo learned of the scheme devised by Riemer, Cooper and Moore and stopped payment on Riemer’s $517,000 check.
According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram article, additional court records were made available this month showing how the controversy started, including details on a contentious spat between Tuf Cooper, and Cole Bailey, a part-time cowboy who sells cars at his family business in Oklahoma. In an affidavit, Bailey accused Cooper of asking him to participate in the alleged scheme. However, Cooper had not returned requests from the Fort Worth Star Telegram for a comment.
“It was unclear how the lawsuits were resolved this week as Rick Hagen, the attorney for Moore, would only release this comment: “The parties have resolved this dispute to each party’s satisfaction.” Attorneys for RFD-TV and Riemer could not be reached. Cooper did not hire an attorney.
On Aug. 22, 2016, RFD-TV founder and owner Patrick Gottsch and Sean Gleason, CEO of the PBR, announced a long-term, three-year plan for The American Rodeo event, which will return to Arlington Stadium in Arlington on Feb. 19, 2017. The agreement with the PBR and the Dallas Cowboys stadium ensures the future of the world’s richest one-day rodeo event. Prior to the Finals, the semifinals will be held Feb. 15-17 at the Stockyards in Fort Worth and will include a purse of almost $500,000. The three events will continue to make history with a record-breaking payout totaling around $3 million and offers athletes a chance to make the kind of winnings they don’t often see in other professional rodeo and bull-riding competitions.
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