Japanese baseball player Ikuhiro Kiyota has filed a lawsuit for damages and reinstatement by the Lotte Marines after his contract was terminated for restaurant dining during the coronavirus pandemic, his attorney said Thursday.
In the lawsuit filed in Tokyo District Court, 35-year-old Kiyota is seeking approximately 97 million yen ($ 850,000) in damages and claims the sentence he received from the Pacific League club in May was “illegal and ineffective” said the lawyer.
The photo provided shows Ikuhiro Kiyota. (Kyodo)
During Thursday’s first hearing, Lotte, who is based in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, called for Kiyota’s lawsuit to be dismissed. The team said in May that it terminated its contract for breaking the team’s rules after Kiyota went out on multiple occasions, according to media reports.
The Lotte Marines declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Kiyota’s defense team, which began his career with the Marines in 2010, argued at the hearing that the team urged players not to go out during the coronavirus pandemic, but did not prohibit them from going out.
Lotte was also said to have failed to respond to requests from the Nippon Professional Baseball Players’ Association to negotiate Kiyota’s treatment.
“It is no exaggeration to say that (Kiyota’s) professional baseball career is over because he was unable to agree on a contract with another team due to the effects of the unfair punishment,” the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, Kiyota was said to have dined with a female friend in September last year when Lotte was out and about in Sapporo, but reported a hoax to the club.
After that, there was a buildup of coronavirus infections that Kiyota and some of his teammates tested positive for. Kiyota was suspended indefinitely in January this year for violating club rules.
While the suspension was lifted on May 1, the Marines said on May 23 that they would terminate his contract for “infidelity” to the team. The announcement followed reports that Kiyota had gone out several times after his suspension was lifted.