A defamation lawsuit filed against MLB and the Angels by Brian Harkins, a former team employee who was fired for provided illegal substances to pitchers, has been dismissed in Orange County Superior Court, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Judge Geoffrey T. Glass granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint on Monday, saying Harkins did not provide sufficient evidence that he was defamed in news reports in the wake of his firing.
"Published statements do not support the allegation that MLB or the Angels authorized those statements," Glass wrote, per the Times. "In order to hold an organization liable for defamation, the person saying the defamatory things must be authorized to speak on behalf of the organization."
In news reports on Harkins's firing, sources confirming his dismissal were unnamed, limiting his ability to prove who defamed him.
Daniel Rasmussen, an attorney for Harkins, said he plans to appeal the ruling.
The Angels fired Harkins last March after learning he aided pitchers in obtaining his ball-doctoring mixture of rosin and pine tar to improve their grip of the baseball. The move came after MLB began looking to eliminate the use of "engineered" substance mixtures. Pitchers use these foreign substances to increase the spin of their pitches, which makes creates more movement and thus makes them more difficult to hit.
Harkins had spent nearly 40 years in Los Angeles' organization after starting as an Angels batboy in 1986 and working his way up to visiting clubhouse manager in 1990.
When filing his original complaint last August, Harkins alleged defamation and false light and cited how applying rosin and pine tar on baseballs has been a common practice in MLB. He said the news reports of his firing cast him in a negative light and he is now unemployable, per the Times.
In documents supporting his case, Harkins listed numerous Angels pitchers, including Troy Percival, Dylan Bundy, Cam Bedrosian and Keynan Middleton, who used his substance, known as "the sticky stuff."
"Harkins also claimed that MLB has evidence implicating several star pitchers—including Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber and Adam Wainwright—for using foreign substances to improve their grip on the ball. Though Harkins acknowledged that he supplied the substances, he claims he did not personally apply them to baseballs," according to the Times.