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Woman hit by chair files lawsuit against Francisco, two teammates

| Friday, April 29, 2005

OAKLAND, Calif. - The woman whose nose was broken last year when she was hit by a chair thrown by Texas reliever Frank Francisco filed a lawsuit Thursday against the pitcher, two of his teammates and the Rangers.

The suit filed by Jennifer Bueno seeks damages for battery, assault and negligence. Also named in the lawsuit are Texas pitchers Doug Brocail and Carlos Almanzar, the Texas Rangers Baseball Company, and Staff Pro Inc. _ the company hired by the Oakland Athletics to provide security at the game.

"As a matter of policy, the organization doesn't address issues related to litigation, especially when it involves a lawsuit, which we have not seen and only heard about from news reports," Rangers spokesman Gregg Elkin said.

Brocail and Almanzar declined to comment while Francisco was unavailable as he was preparing to undergo season-ending ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow Friday.

Bueno's attorney, J. Gary Gwilliam, said at a news conference that the incident was the fault of the players involved, and repeatedly maintained that Bueno's husband, Craig, did nothing wrong to incite the players.

Craig Bueno was among a group of fans who heckled the Texas bullpen during the Sept. 13, 2004, game at the Coliseum.

"These were players out of control," Gwilliam said. "Jenny did absolutely nothing wrong. She didn't say anything to anybody and we don't believe that Craig did anything wrong."

Jennifer Bueno said she has physically recovered from her injury, pointing to a small scar on the bridge of her nose, but said she is still affected emotionally.

"It's something that's going to stay with me for the rest of my life," Bueno said. "I never thought that I'd have to go to a game and be fearful for players attacking me, but nobody can say that won't happen, because we know now it can."

Bueno said she has not attended any baseball games since then and did not anticipate going to any soon. She also said she is "apprehensive and scared" of confrontations at her children's games.

Gwilliam said negotiations last month on a settlement with the Rangers were unsuccessful. He wouldn't say how much Bueno is seeking.

"We were a long ways apart, and any figures they had were not in the ballpark," he said.

Francisco's attorney, Rick Minkoff, had no comment on the lawsuit.

The criminal trial against Francisco is still pending, and was postponed Thursday by the judge until June 2.

Minkoff presented a pre-plea report for the court to consider. He said he will also submit additional materials before that date. Francisco is charged with misdemeanor assault, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail and three years probation if convicted.

"This was our first opportunity to have a full discussion with the court that's going to be in charge of the case and handle the disposition of the case," Minkoff said. "The court's going to hear more from us and I consider that substantial progress because it's the first time that's happened."

Both sides will consider pleading out the case, but Minkoff said he would not consider anything that would endanger Francisco's immigration status. Francisco, who is from the Dominican Republic, is in the country on a visa.

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