Just four days before RFD-TV’s The American gets underway in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, tie-down roper Reese Riemer, Stinnett, Texas, filed a lawsuit against the American’s organizers, Rural Media Group, Inc., and RMG Events LLC, for failing to pay his winnings from the 2015 American.
The lawsuit seeks $600,000—the $517,000 Riemer says is owed to him for winning The American as a qualifier, plus damages, attorney fees and court costs. RMG Events issued Riemer the check March 4, 2015, but after rumors circulated that the qualifiers in the tie-down roping competition had made a deal to split the bonus pool regardless of the outcome, RFD-TV owner and founder Patrick Gottsch called Riemer, according to the suit filed yesterday. Riemer assured Gottsch that no deal had been made, but Gottsch informed Riemer that a stop payment had been put on his check for the $517,000 because of the rumors, the suit alleges.
“I view this as a simple breach of contract case, and we try those cases all the time,” attorney John B. Thomas of the Houston-based litigation boutique Hicks Thomas LLP, counsel for Riemer, said. “RFD, what they’ve implied in their comments, is that these four contestants got together and cooked up the deal. Then why in the world would they invite Tuf Cooper and Timber Moore back to the American this year if they did anything wrong? It’s powerful evidence that nobody did anything wrong. If those guys cheated, there’s no way they’d have them back. If you go to their website right now, the video being used to promote The American is showing Reese’s winning run from last year.”
The lawsuit cites use of Riemer in The American’s promotional material, including interviews on RFD-TV, that reference Riemer as the tie-down winner. The suit claims that “in doing so, RFD-TV capitalizes on Reese’s name and likeness to its own economic advantage.”
Following The American, but before a stop was placed on Riemer’s check, RFD-TV flew him to Nashville for interviews.
“I don’t think there’s any way they can establish Reese cheated in any way,” Thomas said. “What I’d like to believe is that this is all just a misunderstanding. They’ll respond to the lawsuit, and I hope they’ll realize this is a misunderstanding and it will all go away.”
As for the timing of the lawsuit just days before the 2016 edition looks to get underway, Thomas said, “Almost a year has gone by, and it’s time Reese gets paid.”
The lawsuit also addresses the matter of KC Jones’ tie in the steer wrestling. KC Jones won The American on a tie-breaker, and despite the rules being unclear as to whether or not he was entitled to a part of the $1-million sidepot, Bernard paid Jones a share of the pot and deducted $83,000 from Riemer’s and bareback rider Taylor Price’s initial $600,000 checks to cover it. The lawsuit cites an interview on RFD-TV in which Bernard stated that Riemer agreed to allow KC Jones to take a piece of his winnings; however, Riemer said no such conversation ever took place but noted this as an admission by RFD that Riemer was entitled to payment.
The case is Reese Riemer v. Rural Media Group, et al., No. 2:16-cv-00031-J, in US District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Amarillo.
Spin To Win Rodeo reached out to Randy Bernard and RFD-TV for comment, but Bernard has yet to issue a statement on the matter.