He can tell the difference between a 98-mile-per-hour fastball and a devastating splitter in a fraction of a second. But Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is alleging that a California jeweler was able to slip a change-up past his discerning eye.
Ortiz is suing the jeweler, claiming he sold Ortiz fake or low-quality diamond and gold jewelry for $127,000, and then failed to refund the money when Ortiz discovered the deception.
Ortiz, who like many prominent athletes wears expensive jewelry and accessories, is accusing Randy Hamida of Anaheim, Calif., as well as Randy’s Mens Wear, Ltd. Inc., of fraud, breach of contract, and other violations stemming from a 2010 purchase. The man known as Big Papi thought he had bought a Breitling watch with diamonds and white and yellow gold, a diamond bracelet, and a set of black diamond earrings, a necklace, and a bracelet, according to a civil suit filed in Middlesex Superior Court on Thursday .
But when Ortiz had the jewelry appraised, he found it was “imitation or low-quality metal and gemstones,” the suit alleges.
“David doesn’t buy jewelry, or buy anything, from just anybody. And he trusted Mr. Hamida,” said Jonathan M. Davidoff, Ortiz’s lawyer. “This was a last resort for David. David didn’t want to sue. But also, David doesn’t want to be taken advantage of. And professional athletes are targets, unfortunately.”
The suit says that Hamida presents himself as a luxury jewelry dealer who targets professional athletes, and “travels nationwide to Major League Baseball cities to stalk players at their hotels in an attempt to peddle his jewelry.”
Ortiz bought the jewelry in 2010, after Hamida had pursued him for years in an effort to “lure” him into purchasing jewelry, the lawsuit says.
In a brief phone interview, Ortiz, whose collection of ear studs, necklaces, and bracelets is ever-changing, brushed off this bauble dispute as he might an offspeed pitch that plunked him on the shoulder.
“It’s going to get taken care of; I’m not worried,” Ortiz said, adding that he is not getting personally involved in the suit.
No attorney is listed on court documents as representing Hamida, who also goes by the last name “Hamideh.” Calls to phone numbers listed to his name and address went unreturned Tuesday.
According to the suit, Hamida approached Ortiz in September 2010 at the Red Sox’ team hotel in Seattle, and Ortiz asked Hamida to meet him in Massachusetts at the end of the season. The two met in October, and Hamida presented Ortiz with “allegedly custom-designed jewelry of the highest quality gold, diamonds, and other precious gemstones,” according to the suit. Ortiz paid with a check for $80,000 and about $47,000 worth of his own jewelry.
After Ortiz discovered the jewelry was not worth what he paid, Hamida initially attempted to avoid Ortiz, according to the suit, but ultimately met with him in April 2011 when the Red Sox traveled to Anaheim.
“Hamida acknowledged to Ortiz that the jewelry was of a lesser value than he represented, and promised a full refund and a return of Ortiz’s necklace,” according to the suit.
But Hamida failed to pay, according to the suit. When Ortiz confronted him about it, Hamida again apologized and promised to pay, but said he needed until the end of 2011 because of financial problems, according to the suit.
Hamida asked Ortiz to return the jewelry so he could sell it to raise the money to repay Ortiz the $80,000, according to the suit. Hamida told Ortiz he would return the slugger’s necklace the next time Hamida saw him, the lawsuit says.
At the end of 2011, Ortiz agreed to return the jewelry to Hamida in exchange for the promise of his necklace and money back, but Hamida has still not paid, according to the suit. It says Ortiz has learned from other players that Hamida “has a history of conducting himself in this manner.”
Hamida used Randy’s Mens Wear, a company owned by his father, to collect payments made to him in credit cards or checks, according to the suit. The California Secretary of State’s website lists the company as “suspended,” for “failure to meet tax requirements.”
A phone call to a number listed to Hamida’s father went unreturned, and no working number could be found for the company.
Davidoff said he was not aware of any other suits against Hamida, and said that before Ortiz decided to sue, he attempted to talk things out with the jeweler.
“When he realized that the jewelry was not authentic, and not what Mr. Hamida purported it to be, he very nicely said, ‘Make good on it,’ with the big David Ortiz smile,” said Davidoff. “Mr. Hamida gave him a song and dance, and that’s why this ended up in litigation.”
Lisa Tuite of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @evanmallen. Peter Abraham can be reached at Peter.Abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.