A New Jersey lawyer acting on behalf of Arturo Gatti’s daughter has filed a wrongful- death lawsuit against the widow of the dead Canadian boxer and obtained a temporary court order freezing his U.S. estate.
The lawsuit, filed in New Jersey’s Middlesex County by lawyer Anthony Pope, accuses Mr. Gatti’s widow, Amanda Rodrigues, of killing the former welterweight champion in 2009.
Mr. Gatti’s five-year-old daughter, Sofia, is the plaintiff in the lawsuit, which lists her mother, Erika Rivera, as the guardian acting on her behalf.
Brazilian police cleared Ms. Rodgrigues of any wrongdoing two weeks after Mr. Gatti’s death. But private investigators hired by Mr. Gatti’s former manager, Pat Lynch, released a report last week saying the boxer could not have committed suicide, as the official Brazilian investigation found. The report points the finger squarely at Ms. Rodrigues, who says she was sleeping while Mr. Gatti hanged himself.
Prosecutors in Brazil have promised to take a second look at the case.
The private investigators say Mr. Gatti has the bulk of his estate, about $6.5-million in assets, invested with a bank in New Jersey.
The latest court case is in addition to another civil trial under way in Montreal, where Mr. Gatti’s family is alleging Ms. Rodrigues coerced Mr. Gatti into signing a will leaving her everything just weeks before he died. The Gatti family is trying to convince a judge to throw out the will.
In addition to Sofia, Mr. Gatti had a son, Arturo Jr., with Ms. Rodrigues. The will explicitly excluded the girl on Mr. Gatti’s instructions, his notary testified at the trial in Montreal.
Ms. Rodrigues, who was detained for two weeks immediately after Mr. Gatti’s death, has maintained her innocence. She is expected to testify in the Canadian case next week.
Ms. Rodrigues says she and Arturo Jr. were asleep upstairs in the hotel suite on July 11, 2009, when Mr. Gatti was strangled.
Brazilian investigators found Mr. Gatti lying on the ground with a bloody head injury and a purse strap nearby. They concluded he fell to the ground some time after hanging himself during the night.
The private investigators say the purse strap was too short to use in a hanging and couldn’t have supported Mr. Gatti’s weight for more than a few seconds. They also said blood stains at the scene were inconsistent with the suicide scenario.