An attorney for Howard Rubinsky, who sued Thoroughbred owner Ahmed Zayat for alleged gambling debts, has also sued Zayat, in this case for libel.
Zayat, owner of dual classic winner and Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah , on May 21 said Rubinsky's suit, which seeks to collect from him $1.65 million in gambling debts, amounts to extortion and that the suit is without merit. The lawsuit was first reported by NJ.com and later May 20 by the New York Times.
On June 2 attorney Joseph Bainton of BaintonLynch, a New York City law firm, filed suit in United States District Court in New Jersey seeking damages because of comments Zayat made to the media in published reports about the Rubinsky lawsuit. Bainton's suit lists the quotes that appeared in the New York Daily News, Associated Press reports, and on the website Obeserver.com.
The suit lists the following quote from Zayat that appeared in Associated Press stories: "It's a fraud. It's a scam from A to Z. It's total fiction. It's a total lie. It is a case of blackmail by a criminal."
Plaintiff Bainton is seeking a jury trial and damages of not less than $10 million, according to suit, which was emailed to various media outlets.
Zayat's attorney, Joseph Vann, believes the latest suit also is without merit.
"We believe the lawsuit filed against our client today has no legal merit," Vann said. "We expect it will be thrown out by the court, and our client intends to file a malicious prosecution action after we prevail, if warranted."
Rubinksy filed a breach of contract lawsuit in March 2014 in which he said Zayat did not repay him in full for gambling debts that built from 2003-05. Zayat has attempted to have the case dismissed and in a filing of March of this year said Rubinsky does not have any "documentation, first-hand knowledge, or witness with first-hand knowledge that Zayat actually placed bets through (the offshore gambling site) Tradewinds."
"The rhetoric accusing me of owing monies over gambling debts is a pathetic attempt to extort me and we are expecting this meritless lawsuit from a convicted felon to be dismissed," Zayat said May 21 in a statement sent to Blood-Horse.
As reported earlier, Rubinsky could face an uphill climb in collecting such debts through U.S. District Court. According to the Journal of Legal Issues and Cases in Business, debts incurred at online casinos are subject to the provisions of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which essentially views internet gambling as illegal. Courts generally refuse to enforce contracts that are based on an illegal subject matter.