D’Angelo Russell is the talk of the town because he tape recorded his Lakers teammate, Nick Young, gossiping about Young’s love life away from his fiancé, Iggy Azalea. In California, you cannot tape record someone without their permission. I think that doubly so, given that the conversation was in a locker room, where there is an unwritten rule that what starts there stays there. Violation can be a misdemeanor with a fine.

Theoretically, Young could sue for invasion of privacy, but former Clippers owner Donald Sterling tried that to no avail. Then again, as pointed out in the L.A. Times, the trust lost is priceless.

P.S. – Given that Mr. Young is a pro athlete, who knows what is truth and what is braggin’ here.

One of my law school professors was Michael Josephson. He has an institute of ethics and used to have a radio show called “Character Counts.” When an athlete fell down the ladder of a draft, he would point to the differential of the value of his contract and say something like, “this is the cash value of character.”  There are certainly cases in point. Steph Curry and LeBron James get huge endorsements because their public image is pristine. Tiger, well…

This takes us to the Erin Andrews and Hulk Hogan cases. Ms. Andrews is a sports commentator who was just awarded $51 million after she was photographed naked through a peep hole in a hotel. Hulk Hogan is suing because Gawker published a sex tape involving him. In each case, the value of their existing reputation has come into play.

A few legal points. First, in Ms. Andrews’ case, there is doubt that the verdict will stand. It is likely too high. The trial judge sits as the 13th juror to correct excess and the Court of Appeals in Tennessee will do the same. For the sake of all, I think there will be a flurry of motions and eventually a confidential settlement.

Dave Stewart is the opposite side of the equation and perhaps reflects changing mores. He was caught with a self-identified lady of the evening and the Dodgers banished him to Oakland, where he prospered. He is now a successful agent, proving that there are second acts in America, but again, the legal aspects of all this are rather fascinating.

Copyright: zimmytws / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: zimmytws / 123RF Stock Photo

On the firm’s HIPAA, HITECH & HIT Blog, Fox partner Elizabeth Litten published a post yesterday noting two recent high-profile instances of HIPAA breaches involving professional athletes, and reviewing a 2002 clarification by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that a professional athlete has the same HIPAA rights as any other individual.

Fox partner Bill Maruca also recently discussed one of the instances in detail – a tweet by ESPN reporter Adam Schefter containing a screenshot of hospital records from hand injuries suffered by New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul on July 4.



Will Sterling appeal?  Will there be legal consequences for V. Stiviano?  What are the rights of the Clippers’ players?  I had the opportunity to provide my thoughts to Anna Gallegos of LBXN earlier today:

Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Hit with Ban and Fine, but Legal Battle with NBA Looms

We’ll be following the aftermath of Sterling’s ban here at the Sports Law Scoreboard over the days and weeks to come; stay tuned.

The Dallas News featured comment by Hall of Fame Quarterback Roger Staubach regarding the arrest of a Dallas Cowboy for allegedly beating up his mother. The same week, The New York Times Magazine had a cover story on a supposedly brilliant young man who killed his parents when he was 14 and now wants out of prison at the age of 33. When I blogged about Michael Vick starting a sports line, a reader and a friend wrote me back wanting to know how the dogs feel about it.  Forgive me, but civility starts at home. Why else do so many athletes salute their mothers after victory?


 Scott Weston contributed to this post. 

 On May 5, 2010, sportsillustrated.com reported that Dwyane Wade’s estranged wife file an emotional distress suit against actress Gabrielle Union. Wade and his wife are in the middle of a heated divorce.


Some belief that the lawsuit is nothing short of pure harassment and leverage.  She tried the same claims within the divorce and failed.   She will have a difficult time proving up her case, especially since the divorce alone and major custody battle would be the primary cause of any child’s stress at their age.   The wife has already failed to follow court’s orders in the divorce and is facing a difficult custody battle.  


Can you imagine losing custody to an athlete whose time commitment and demands are so great?  You would have to be a complete disaster to face such a risk.  She may be concerned the Court may put the kids with Dwayne and has sour grapes against this gal because she actually may have a good relationship with her kids.  Maybe she hopes to cause a rift between Wade and his girlfriend by dragging her into litigation and hoping she says to Wade she can’t stand it.  The lawsuit may be short lived. 

On Friday, February 19, 2010, as reported by Golf.com, Tiger Woods issued a public apology for his “transgressions” and claims he’s not sure he’ll play golf soon.   

Yes, he was wooden. Yes, he said exactly what you expected. But what would you have had him say?  Woods’ apology was unconditional and he seemed contrite.  He is fighting to recapture his dignity under impossible circumstances.  He is all world in golf, but a stumbling bar mitzvah boy on the dais.  And maybe that is how it should be.  


Juries understand real sentiment, and perhaps most often when it is expressed haltingly.  His defense of his family being hounded was real and likely heartfelt. The only question was timing.  As noted by Wayne Drash on CNN.com’s article, Does Tiger Woods’ apology hold weight, why do this during the Olympics? Why do this during a golf tourney? If you want support from your fellows, support them by picking  the right moment (also a question during trials).  


Many have criticized his failure to take questions, but again, a good trial lawyer tries to limit damage.  I expect that there will be tons of critical commentary against Tiger on this one, but to me he came in at about par.

In T.J. Quinn’s ESPN.com article, "Judge dismisses most of Clemen’s suit," it was reported that U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison dismissed most of Roger Clemens’ allegations regarding what Brian McNamee told federal investigators because they came at the request of federal authorities who wanted him to cooperate with the investigation. Ellison did allow Clemens to pursue statements McNamee made to Clemens’ former teammate Andy Pettitte and a Sports Illustrated reporter about the pitcher’s use of steroids. On June 30, 2009, Ellison reaffirmed his decision.  Several months later, ESPN.com reported that the judge dismissed the rest of Clemens’ suit

Clemens’ chances of winning were trimmed by the high legal standard he must meet.

In order to succeed, Clemens should have shown the following:

  1. The publication of the statements was intentional
  2. The statements were of:
    1. fact
    2. false
    3. defamatory
    4. unprivileged
    5. that he suffered damages. 

However, because Clemens is an public figure, he should have also shown McNamee acted with malice in making the statements. Malice involves knowledge that the statements were false. Malice, by itself, set a very high bar for Clemens to reach.

Interestingly, in August 2009, McNamee filed a defamation lawsuit against Clemens, claiming Clemens waged a public relations war against McNamee intended to make him look like a liar before the public. 

Taken as a whole, both Clemens’ dismissed claims and McNamee’s claims for defamation appear as a vindication effort more than anything else.  Their reputations have been severely affected in the public eye, and mitigation efforts are in order. 

On August 26, 2009, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government overstepped its bounds when federal agents illegally seized the urine samples of 104 baseball players who allegedly tested positive in 2003.  (Court’s Decision.pdf).   The court ruled that the agents were entitled only to samples from the 10 players named on the initial search warrant. The Major League Baseball Players Association represents the players in this case.

Baseball with white backgroundThe 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people from unreasonable search and seizures by the government. A search that violates a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy is illegal unless the government agent has a warrant, which must be executed properly. A warrant is properly if, among other things, the person or place searched or seized is within the scope of the warrant. Items outside of the warrant’s scope may be seized if in “plain view,” which means the items must be immediately apparent to the searching agent. If not in “plain view,” then a warrant must be secured first for the additional items.

The urine samples for the non-warrant-listed players were seized after an agent saw the drug-testing results from an Excel spreadsheet of these players. The initial display on the screen was only of the 10 players listed in the warrant. However, the agent continued to scroll to the right of the screen and found additional names of players who had failed drug testing. The Court ruled that these results were not in “plain view” because the agent had to scroll to the right of the screen until the additional names appeared.

The U.S. government is considering whether to appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. If appealed and upheld, this case will extend 4th Amendment rights to your computer screen as well!