Firm Secures Lawsuit Dismissal on Behalf of the National Baseball Hall of Fame

October 19, 2021

Last week, the Firm secured the voluntary dismissal of a lawsuit brought against our client, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, by former New York Yankee Joe Pepitone in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. The lawsuit concerned the baseball bat that Mickey Mantle used to hit his 500th home run in 1967, which has been on display in Cooperstown for fans to enjoy for over 50 years. Pepitone was Mantle’s teammate on the day of the historic home run, and claimed in a complaint he filed in July 2021 to own the bat that Mantle used to hit it. Pepitone alleged in his complaint that he was the true owner of the Mantle Bat and, in spite of contemporaneous records showing that the bat was donated outright to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967 by the New York Yankees, that he had oral agreements with since deceased employees of the Yankees and the Baseball Hall of Fame that the Hall would return the bat to Pepitone whenever he asked. 

In responding to the allegations, the Firm discovered that Pepitone had filed for bankruptcy in 2010, and that in schedules and filings intended to list any and all of his assets and signed under oath and penalty of perjury, Pepitone did not list the Mantle Bat or claim to own it. 

In August 2021, the Firm filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on Pepitone’s 2010 bankruptcy filing. The Firm argued that the bankruptcy filing severely undermined Pepitone’s claims that he owned the Mantle Bat and, more importantly, that Pepitone was precluded by the doctrine of judicial estoppel from asserting a claim for the bat. Under this theory, Pepitone was estopped from asserting a claim over the Mantle Bat because he represented under oath to the Bankruptcy Court that he held no ownership interest in the bat, and he obtained the benefit of being discharged from bankruptcy in reliance on that sworn representation. On the day before a response to the Firm’s motion was due, Pepitone voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety. 

The Mantle Bat remains on display in Cooperstown for all to enjoy.

To read the Firm’s motion, please click hereTo read Law360 press coverage on this case, please click here. To read ESPN press coverage on this case, please click here.