Apr 072016
 April 7, 2016  Posted by  Breaches, Court

Eriq Gardner reports that ESPN’s response to Jason Pierre-Paul’s lawsuit over tweeting his medical record showing the partial amputation of his finger is that it’s a matter of public concern.

ESPN is now pushing back, aiming to use Florida’s recently passed SLAPP statute to win attorney fees for Pierre-Paul’s attempt to stop activity that it believes is protected under the First Amendment. “The instant case is exactly the kind of ‘SLAPP’ lawsuit that the new law was passed to address,” states ESPN.

The defendant’s biggest argument is that Pierre-Paul’s claims “cannot succeed where, as here, the subject-matter of a news report is a matter of public concern.”

It’s an interesting argument. I think they’re right that the amputation of a sports figure in the public eye is a matter of public concern and the media can certainly report on it. And if they can report on it, why can’t they use an image of the finger or  an image of the medical record?

“Plaintiff’s lawsuit proceeds on the theory that while it was legitimate for Mr. Schefter to report the details of Plaintiff’s medical treatment in the form of words contained in a news report, it was unlawful for him to definitively corroborate his reporting by also providing two photos of a small portion of a page of hospital records that contained essentially the same words. Put another way, Plaintiff’s theory is that it is fine to quote from a document, but it is unlawful to attach a photo of similar words as they appear in the document. That proposition is meritless, as a matter of both law and common sense.”

You can read the full motion to dismiss on  Hollywood Reporter.

  3 Responses to “ESPN Argues NFL Star’s Amputated Finger Is Matter of Public Concern”

  1. It is an interesting argument. I can see how fans and concerned citizens would want to hope for a speedy recovery and only wish for the best (as long as the media handles the story appropriately), especially his loyal fans who want to see him up and playing again.

    I guess it all depends on consent/release forms on which documents and such can be used for a situation like this .

    In regards to photographs, I think that should be done using best judgment (which I hope people in situations like this). Some medical photographs (especially pre and post surgery photographs) can be very grotesque. Some people do not have a high threshold for such gruesome pictures. There is also that fine line of knowing what to publicize and what to hold back on.
    I have seen lots of news reports where reporters explained that they can not show specific photos because its too inhumane, grotesque or too much for viewers to see.

  2. He didn’t consent to hospital employees releasing his medical records to the media.

    This is about press freedom to report what they consider newsworthy or “of public concern.” It’s being pitted against right to privacy. The press usually wins in these cases, but we’ll see…

  3. I still do not think Adam Schefter (who has a history of making dumb judgment calls) should have released those photos to Twitter. It is not illegal but its kind of dumb.
    I just re read the NY Post article.

    Friend told me the backstory of why the fingers were amputated (oy, very stupid, lesson learned the hard way) and stated that sources are confirming the doctor released the information to Schefter. If that is the case, then that doctor’s license needs to be revoked.

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