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Former Chicago Cubs utilityman Ben Zobrist dropped his lawsuit against pastor Byron Yawn that sought $6 million in damages stemming from Yawn’s extramarital affair with Zobrist’s estranged wife, Julianna, and an allegation that Yawn defrauded his charity.
According to a court document the Tribune obtained, attorney Larry Crain filed a notice Thursday in Nashville (Tenn.) Circuit Court voluntarily withdrawing the claim, though the type of notice — “without prejudice” — leaves it possible for Zobrist to refile the lawsuit within a year.
This comes as the Zobrists are engaged in a divorce trial this week in a Franklin, Tenn., court.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Yawn’s attorney, Christopher Bellamy, told the Tribune.
“I’m suspicious for their reasons but I’m optimistic that he’ll continue to do the right things.”
The notice did not list a reason why Zobrist decided to drop the case. The Tribune attempted to reach Crain via email but didn’t immediately receive a response.
Zobrist first filed the lawsuit May 6, alleging that Yawn’s affair with Julianna — one she admitted to having during a deposition for the divorce — constituted “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
He also alleged that Yawn fraudulently collected on his $3,500-per-month salary as executive director of Patriot Forward, a support group for athletes, cashing at least two months of checks after his termination in March 2019.
Zobrist had sought $6 million in punitive and compensatory damages through a jury trial.
Late last month, Yawn’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case, denying that any fraud was committed and arguing that the “meritless” suit was an attempt to blame Yawn for Zobrist’s marital problems. The motion also said Zobrist missed the window of time to file his claim.
Yawn’s attorney said Yawn and Julianna consider themselves a couple now.
“For the past two years Mr. Yawn and Ms. Zobrist have been in a healthy and emotionally secure relationship,” Bellamy wrote in his brief.