Ring City Hit With Eight-Count Lawsuit
Ring City USA will be heading to the courtroom.
Boxing Scene confirmed that the creators of Ring City USA—Offabbot—received eight-count complaint filed by series researcher and content producer Mark Ortega. The lawsuit was filed with the Superior Court of the State of California, Los Angeles County.
According to Ortega and his legal team, they alleged:
- Non-Payment of Wages;
- Waiting Time Penalties;
- Failure to Reimburse For Business Expenses;
- Failure to Furnish Timely and Accurate Itemized Wage Statements;
- Unfair Business Practices in Violation of California Business;
- Breach of Contract
Ortega is looking for compensatory damages and penalties for unpaid wages, reimbursable expenses and additional compensation owed.
The CEO of Offabbot, Ring City LLC, Ring City Inc., Frank Samuel and Production Executive Lauren Bayer were named as the defendants in the 71-page complaint.
Ortega has been a boxing media member for a long time, he also works as a producer for Fox Sports and was hired to work the first three Ring City events when it launched a couple of years ago.
The series aired on November 19, 2020, with Ortega providing research for that show through an agreement that had been signed around November 14, 2020.
The series received a lot of praise, its concept was putting on the best fights free of promotional output deals.
For each Ring City event, which aired live on NBC Sports Network and simultaneously streamed live on its Twitch channel, had also worked alongside different promoters. Their lead promoter was Bash Boxing, by license only.
According to the agreement, Ortega was going to be compensated for services on November 18-19, December 2-3 and 17-18, in regard to the fighter meetings and fight night for their three shows in 2020.
Ortega was paid $800 via remote deposit for each of the three shows, totaling $2,400 for services rendered.
The trial run extended into a year-long agreement in 2021, where Ortega agreed to a base annual salary of $100,000, 12 monthly installments of $8,333.33.
The complaint shared that the parties “did not execute a formal employment agreement for Plaintiff’s 2021 services, but the material terms of Plaintiff’s 2021 employment were memorialized, offered, and accepted via email exchanges between Plaintiff ORTEGA and Defendant BAYER, who was acting as an agent for Defendants OFFABBOTT, RING CITY LLC, and RING CITY INC with the authority to bind OFFABBOT, RING CITY LLC, and RING CITY INC to such an employment agreement.”
The parties intended to air 14 installments of the promote-agnostic live boxing series in 2021. There was a short delay getting the series out during the new year and then they announced a block of three fights for March.
These all aired live from Puerto Rico.
They were part of six events to be held before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were delayed. After the olympics, there were to be eight shows for the rest of the year. The series then was to be one of the several projects migrating to the Peacock streaming platform from NBCN.
Ring City only aired four shows ending in April. There were more troubles and damages that would occur thereafter.
The complaint asserts that Ortega was paid in full for his services in January and February.
He received monthly payments. He did not receive any payment for his work in March and April. These were the only months that the series aired in 2021. This started the fight with Ortega to try to obtain the remainder of his guaranteed annual salary.
Ortega continued working with Ring City, and it continued to produce content external to actual fight night events. The complaint alleges that by June 1, Ring City was three months behind on payments to Ortega for his work. Then they wired a payment of $8,333.33 on June 18, 2021 for services provided in March. They issued another full payment on June 24 for services in April.
That was the last payment that Ortega received until last October 1. The complaint says that the defendants only offered a $4,000 partial payment on November 12 for his June services. They offered the same amount on December 1.
He was paid another $4,000 last Christmas Eve. Ortega claims to have continued honoring his agreement through December 31, even though he was still owed $46,333.35 when his employment terminated.
In the new year, the results were similar results and he only received limited payments on four different dates. By April 15, Ortega was paid $16,500, but he still was owed $29,833.35 on April 16. This led to his taking legal action.
The most damaging claim was his accusing Offabot of forging his signature on a Confidentiality Agreement, that was allegedly part of a settlement agreement reached by the parties.
The parties reached a settlement in principle on June 24. There also was a proposed Confidentiality Agreement that Ortega rejected. The defendants reportedly wanted confidentiality language added to the agreement.
Ortega was unaware of the defendant’s actions, having entered a settlement agreement of $24,999.99 on July 22. It would be distributed in split payments. The first half of $12,500 was immediately due at execution.
The defendants issued three different payments at two different times, amounts of $6,250 and $4,000 paid through two separate PayPal transfers at and after that $3,250 through wire transfer to Ortega’s counsel’s trust account.
The remaining $12,499 was supposed to be paid by August 1. Ortega’s counsel was unable to contact the defendants and sent them a Notice of Breach and Demand To Cure letter by e-mail on August 2. They submitted an amended Notice of Breach a few hours later. It demanded full payment by August 3 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific or Ortega would rescind the agreement for breach of the Settlement Agreement.
The defendants responded to the amended Notice of Breach that they would not pay the balance because of Ortega’s alleged confidentiality breach. Ortega denies the validity of his signature on that agreement.
A Rescission Letter had been provided, having terminated the previous Settlement Agreement. Ortega looked for the full remaining balance owed and penalties incurred.
Ortega “demands a trial by jury on all issues so triable,” the complaint said.