Chicago men claim ‘Real Housewives’ cast attacked them
BY LISA DONOVAN Cook County Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org June 13, 2011 1:32PM
Jason Gomez who filed a lawsuit against the 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' reality TV show.
Updated: August 3, 2011 8:08PM
Adolfo Arreola, a Chicago area cop, says he was enjoying a moment with his wife on the dance floor in a Caribbean nightclub earlier this year when he stopped in his tracks.
His mother-in-law got a faceful of champagne, courtesy of one of reality television’s more hot-headed characters, Arreola says.
When Arreola, a University of Illinois at Chicago police officer, went over to help his mother-in-law, he says he learned very quickly “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” cast solves its problems with raised voices — and fists.
“I went over and said ‘Hey what’s happening here?’ and I was surrounded,” Arreola told the Sun-Times after a downtown Chicago news conference. “Albie says to me ‘What the F---?’ And they knocked me down, started punching and stomped on my face,” he said, explaining his wrist was broken when he put his hands up to protect his head.
Arreola didn’t know who his attackers were at the time but said he later found out Joe Giudice, Albert “Albie” Manzo and his brother Christopher Manzo — some of the men behind the ‘Wives’ and regulars on the show — were part of a group of a few dozen who went after him and his cousin.
On Monday, Arreola and his cousin Jason Gomez, whose leg was broken in the brawl, filed negligence and assault lawsuits in New York and Miami against Giudice and the Manzos, and their family members, the Bravo network that airs the show as well as the operators of the Hard Rock Cafe’ hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic where the February fight unfolded.
Arreola said he and his extended family were in the Dominican at the time to celebrate an aunt and uncle’s 40th wedding anniversary.
Early the morning of Feb. 23, they crossed paths at the club with the “Real Housewives” cast and crew who were in town to film Season 3 — airing now — of the show that chronicles the spending habits and shouting matches of five New Jersey housewives.
Giudice’s wife, Teresa — who is also named in the suit — famously flipped a table during a fiery tirade involving another housewife in Season 1 and this season opened with a family melee after her nephew’s christening.
And now, Teresa Giudice had sprayed Arreola’s mother-in-law in the face with champagne, Arreola says.
Arreola said after the fight things went from bad to worse. Hotel security refused to call police or summon medical help, he said.
But an attorney for the hotel disagrees.
“It’s our position that the hotel and its personnel acted appropriately at all times. They took the necessary steps to take care of the guests,” said Ricardo Cata, an attorney for the Hard Rock’s operators.
Attempts to reach the network and production company for comment were unsuccessful.
Local authorities seized Arreola’s and his cousin’s passports. And at one point, an attorney for the police ordered him to sign a “release of claims” form involving the television show, Arreola said, recalling the attorney told him it “was for my family’s health and well-being.”
“I took that as a threat,” Arreola said. He responded to the attorney “‘You’re telling me family’s health and well-being is in jeopardy?’ And they said ‘yes.’”
“I was scared for my life. If they told me to chop off my finger, I would have gave them my finger to get out of there,” he said.
He said he called the American Consulate multiple times, but got no assistance.
“They [consular employees] told me that I should have read the blogs a little better, that this is a Third World country, that they’re one of the most corrupt countries, that because of the political ties [with the] United States they are unable to help me,” Arreola said.
In the end, Arreola signed the agreement, though his attorney William T. Gibbs, of Chicago’s Corboy & Demetrio, said such an agreement can’t be signed under duress and that it’s null and void. Because of their injuries, neither Arreola nor his cousin, an electrician, have been able to return to work.
The lawsuits seek at least $50,000 in damages from the cast and hotel.