Benjamin A. Levine of the New York office wrote an article published in Law360 on January 7 titled “MLBers Have Little To Gain, Much to Lose in Al Jazeera Suits.” The article discusses the federal defamation lawsuits filed by Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman against Al Jazeera and reporters Liam James Collins and Deborah Davis over claims the two baseball players used performance-enhancing drugs. The lawsuits stem from the documentary that aired on Al Jazeera, “The Dark Side: Secrets of the Sports Dopers” in December 2015.
The article highlights the high burden public figures face when bringing a defamation lawsuit due to the increased element of actual malice. Moreover, in these cases it puts the baseball players in the precarious position of having to testify under oath regarding their alleged performance-enhancing drug use. Levine cites previous baseball players such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire as examples of players who have damaged both their reputations and in the case of Bonds and Clemens jeopardized their liberty when forced to testify under oath.
Levine ultimately concludes that while the lawsuits may be a solid public relations strategy at the moment, the suits will ultimately be dismissed before either Zimmerman and Howard is forced to testify under oath.
To read the article, click here