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.