(Call us crazy, but we have a hunch two grown men who call themselves “Punkass” and “SkySkrape” may not always weigh the legal consequences of their actions. Pic: CombatLifestyle)
Here come the admissions (and the counter-arguments) in one of the weirdest MMA-related stories we’ve ever heard: The co-founders of MMA’s best known apparel company confirmed through their lawyer on Thursday that they handed out their deceased business partner’s ashes at a memorial service following his 2009 death, but said the amounts were far less than originally reported and that there was “nothing wrong with dividing up a loved one’s ashes” among his close friends. These acknowledgements from Tapout front men Dan “Punkass” Caldwell and Tim “SkySkrape” Katz came after the sister of Charles “Mask” Lewis filed a lawsuit in California this week seeking unspecified damages for the “overwhelming and severe emotional distress” caused by the treatment of her brother’s remains.
Caldwell and Katz fired back that Lewis and his sister were estranged at the time of his death and dismiss her lawsuit as a cash grab. Damn. We’re beginning to think this is one of those situations where everyone is right … and wrong, at the same time. Public responses from both Punkass and ’Skrape are after the jump.
“You all who talk shit should know the whole story first!!!” SkySkrape posted to the UG on Wednesday. “She [Lewis’ sister] is a nut case that charles couldn’t stand (his words not mine)! And I was the closest person to him the past 13 years! She is reaching for SOMETHING!!!!!!!!!!”
“Sad shit!” tweeted Caldwell, who appears in this photograph wearing a necklace bearing a vial with Mask’s name printed on it. “Relatives who hadnt talked to Charles in 10 years now comin out to get money! Not his Ashes! Anyway his ashes belong to his kids!”
Lewis’ sister – still being identified only as “Carla” – contends Caldwell and Katz borrowed Lewis’ ashes for viewing at the public memorial, but says she later learned between 50 and 100 vials containing bits of her brother’s cremated body were distributed to people on a “special list” during the service. She further charges that the men still have the urn containing the ashes and have refused to give them back. Though they now admit to giving out the ashes, Punkass and ’Skrape say it was only a “very small amount.” They also concede they still have Lewis’ ashes – kind of hard to deny when the Orange County Register has published photos of the weird room where they keep them – but say they’ll return the urn “so Mask’s two young children can eventually inherit their father’s remains.”
Caldwell and Katz say Lewis’ “close circle of friends had become his family” at the time of his death. All this seems reasonable, but the actual lawsuit will probably hinge on Carla’s claims that she was the only person with any legal rights over her brother’s ashes. If that’s true, our best guess is that the Tapout Crew is probably going to have to give her some money to go away.
As most of you know, Lewis – who founded Tapout in 1997 with Caldwell and added Katz to the team shortly thereafter — was killed in a car accident during a street race in 2009. The other driver in the race (who was drunk) was later convicted of vehicular manslaughter and sentenced to nine years in prison.