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ESPN is at the center of another unfortunate news story, but instead of saying goodbye to an employee for one reason or another, the company got hit with a lawsuit from New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. The inciting incident occurred last year, when reporter Adam Schefter took to social media with Pierre-Paul’s medical records following a fireworks accident, and the star player is claiming that not only did this infringe upon his privacy but also violated the medical privacy statute in Florida. But does this case have any legitimate merit?
During a Fourth of July celebration last year, Jason Pierre-Paul had an accident that led to one of the fingers on his right hand getting amputated. Adam Schefter later tweeted a picture of the hospital chart, which gave a detailed look into what Pierre-Paul went through for the amputation. The athlete is further demanding to know where Schefter got the chart image, suggesting through his legal team that it was done in an illegal manner, although that accusation is the only thing indicating foul play at this point. Still, Pierre-Paul thinks that it’s perfectly within his rights to look into the possibility that Adam Schefter or someone else at ESPN paid off one or more hospital staff members in order to get the photo. Because that in and of itself could have larger implications.
Additionally, Pierre Paul and his lawyers are putting into question Schefter’s judgment to post the detailed chart rather than just simply reporting the injury happened and the status of it. And if it wasn’t clear just how this was angled in the Giants player’s head, the court papers end by calling out ESPN’s legal counsel for being the same firm that represented Gawker in their legal battle against Hulk Hogan over posting a sex tape in which the former wrestler didn’t know he was being filmed. Considering Hogan took home a massive payday from that trial, the purpose of calling this out was crystal clear.
Not that ESPN is shaking in its cleats or anything. The company’s legal counsel is trying to get the case thrown out of the Florida court where a hearing is set for later this month. According to THR, ESPN is calling First Amendment on this, while also saying that Florida’s medical privacy issues are only focused on health care providers themselves and not any random third party that comes by medical information.
So now, it’s all up to the judge to sort through the back and forth squabbling and extract what parts of the case the law does and doesn’t apply to. It could be kind of groundbreaking if it’s ruled in Jason Pierre-Paul’s favor, at least in specific cases of reporting. ESPN could use a victory, though. We shall see how it goes later this month.