Judge rules Jason Pierre-Paul can sue ESPN, Adam Schefter for posting medical records online
A Florida judge has green-lighted Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s invasion of privacy lawsuit against ESPN and its reporter Adam Schefter for posting his private medical records online to millions of readers. The ruling by Miami Dade County Judge Marcia G. Cooke sets the stage for the state’s second high-profile legal battle in a year between a sports star and a media organization over privacy issues.
Wrestler Hulk Hogan won a record-breaking $140 million victory over Gawker in March for publishing his sex video. Pierre-Paul blew his finger off during a July 4 fireworks mishap last year and was treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. The NFL star says Schefter “improperly obtained.
Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul scored a big win Thursday in his invasion-of-privacy lawsuit against ESPN. A Florida judge said Pierre-Paul can sue the sports news network and reporter Adam Schefter for posting his private medical records online for millions to see. Schefter and ESPN had tried to get Pierre-Paul’s suit tossed, citing First Amendment protections. But Miami Dade County Judge Marcia G. Cooke didn’t buy that argument. She denied ESPN’s motion to dismiss the claim and also denied a motion from ESPN that tried to get Pierre-Paul’s lawyers sanctioned for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
Schefter had gotten hold of Pierre-Paul’s medical records after the NFL star blew off a finger during a July 4 fireworks accident last year. The Giants’ player sought treatment at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Schefter had “improperly obtained” Pierre-Paul’s medical chart and tweeted a picture of it to his 4 million followers, the NFL players’ lawyers said.
The court correctly ruled that Jason properly stated an invasion of privacy claim against ESPN and Adam Schefter, who we allege improperly published Jason’s medical records,” said Mitchell Schuster, a lawyer with Meister Seelig & Fein LLP.
Schuster, along with colleague Kevin Fritz and attorney John Lukacs of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP is representing Pierre-Paul. “Today’s ruling is a recognition of Jason’s right, as a professional athlete, to oppose the publication of his medical records without his consent,” Schuster said in a statement.
ESPN declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. Florida, a state with strict privacy laws, specifically prohibits the public disclosure of medical records without the consent of the patient. Pierre-Paul’s lawsuit — for unspecified damages — is similar to litigation filed last year in Florida court by former University of Miami pitching coach Lazaro Collazo.
He claimed Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez violated his privacy and state law by publishing his Biogenesis medical records and supplying them to federal authorities.