Slandered at the Ballpark: The World’s Most Dubious Defamation Lawsuit

Converged communicators who have taken MMC3200 (Law and Ethics in Communication) have learned by now about libel and slander, the two heads that make up the monster of defamation. Because freedom of speech and freedom of the press are prized by American society – they’re protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution – attempts to claim damages based on defamation have a fairly high bar to clear. Some defamation suits succeed, particularly when the plaintiff is a private figure or when the communicator acted with knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth (actual malice). Others, though, are dead in the water. The following baseball-related defamation lawsuit has about as much chance of succeeding in court as the Chicago Cubs do in this year’s playoffs.


Earlier this year, a New York Yankees fan was spotted sleeping in the stands by ESPN cameras during a nationally televised baseball game against the Boston Red Sox. This somewhat embarrassing incident was picked up by the cameras and announcers, and attracted some attention on YouTube and social media. Now, as reported by Mike Oz of Yahoo! Sports, the fan has struck back, launching a $10 million defamation suit against ESPN, Major League Baseball, the Yankees, and the announcers individually. Excerpts from the lawsuit are available online, illustrating dubious reasoning and worse copy editing.


Why does this case stand no chance of success? Let us count the reasons. The most obvious is that the defendants (ESPN, the announcers, the Yankees, etc.) never even made the statements alleged by the lawsuits. Those statements appeared on Internet message boards, for which the companies are not responsible. Similarly, a person who purchases a ticket at Yankee Stadium is in full view of tens of thousands of people in the crowd and cannot claim a reasonable expectation of privacy. The fan would also have a difficult time proving in court that being captured sleeping in the stands caused actual harm to his reputation.


For those interested in a legal viewpoint of why this defamation lawsuit appears doomed from the start, check out this report from A.J. Perez of the Newark Star-Ledger.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Fork, Spoon & Knife

Three Different Plates

Runners Rock

Run Longer, Run Faster, Train Harder...Challenge Yourself and Get Stronger!


A way of discovering excitement on Florida's First Coast

The River City Diet

Jacksonville's Hop on the Health Food Wagon

The Revamping Of Downtown Jacksonville

A Jacksonvillian talking about Downtown Jax.


A fine site

Traveling Hunger

An Exploration of Food Trucks

Follow the Felines.

a semi-newbie to the blogging world attempting to be a voice for the voiceless.

Sumaira Rajpoot

Love all, trust few, do wrong to none.


Informing Jacksonville, Florida of health related news.

Rachel Taylor

Oh the places we'll go


904 Shines

Bellflower's Insight

Blogging for digital media


digital media

Rose Francois

Creating to spark minds

Glenn! The Great Communicator...?

[ Insert Clever Title Here ]


Assembling Digital Media Class Blog

Amy's Journey

The Road to Communication Excellance

Assembling Digital Media - Spring 2014

part of the FSCJ Converged Communication baccalaureate program

River City Communicator

Going step by step through the world of Converged Communications

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: