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Holding Court With ESPN and baseball rattling their legal sabers, can other tort tussles be far behind?

May 17, 1999
May 17, 1999

Table of Contents
May 17, 1999

Faces In The Crowd
Baseball
Soccer

Holding Court With ESPN and baseball rattling their legal sabers, can other tort tussles be far behind?

ESPN, "the Worldwide Leader in Torts[TM]," last week sued the
double-knit pants off Major League Baseball for threatening to
terminate its television contract with the network. Baseball
will surely countersue the cable conglomerate, starting a litany
of litigation among leagues, athletes and media outlets. Coming
up, on CourtCenter:

This is an article from the May 17, 1999 issue

ESPN v. MLB/MLB v. ESPN

Calling them "frivolous," "wholly without merit" and "an affront
to my intelligence," a judge throws the suits out of court.
Thankfully, the suits he is referring to are those worn by
Harold Reynolds on Baseball Tonight. As for the lawsuits: They
are won by Major League Baseball, but the decisions will be
reversed on appeal when the judge is discovered to have corked
his gavel.

Court TV v. Rod Strickland

When the Washington Wizards star failed to make a scheduled court
appearance last Friday morning to answer charges of driving under
the influence of alcohol and reckless driving, Court TV was
forced, at the last minute, to air a routine paternity hearing
from Cleveland. (At a rescheduled hearing that afternoon,
Strickland pleaded not guilty to both charges.) The cable channel
files suit against the unflappable Strickland, who--that very
night--goes for a triple double. (Vodka, that is.) Imagine the
point guard's surprise when he is served, instead, a subpoena
colada.

Brown v. Board of Education

Kevin Brown sues his alma mater, Wilkinson County (Ga.) High
School, over comments made in the March 29 issue of SPORTS
ILLUSTRATED, in which a current Wilkinson baseball player said
of the Los Angeles Dodgers righthander, "He's a jerk." In this
trial, presided over by TV's Judge Judy, Brown attempts to rebut
the allegation, a task that proves insurmountable when he tells
the judge--as he once told a radio reporter in Florida--to "bite
me." She does. The resulting mistrial is hailed by the ACLU,
denounced by the ASPCA.

Tyson v. Tyson

The Arkansas poultry producer files suit against Mike Tyson for
saying, in the June 2000 issue of Playboy, that Evander
Holyfield's ears "taste like chicken." The trial is stopped by
Judge Mills Lane, and Don King takes the jurors to Aruba.

Audubon Society v. John Feinstein

With the publication of his 16th book in as many months (Fast
Lanes!: Days and Nights on the Pro Bowlers Tour) comes a court
date for the best-selling author of A Short Walk Spoiled:
Afternoons and Evenings on the Miniature Golf Tour. Accused of
single-handedly deforesting the nation with his annual output of
pages, the prolific scribe successfully defends himself against
ecocide charges. How? Read his forthcoming book, All Bark: Early
Mornings and Long Lunch Hours on the Tree-Hugging Circuit
(Dabbleday, $24.95).

Nascar v. Home Box Office

The stock car cartel wages a jurisprudential jihad against HBO's
Real Sports, which recently telecast a segment portraying NASCAR
as reluctant to embrace African-American fans and drivers. To
demonstrate otherwise, NASCAR calls to the stand Richard Petty,
who declared in the HBO piece that he grew up just down the road
from "colored" people. "The only race is the human race," the
King testifies in court. "And the Hooters Hardee's Havoline
400." NASCAR is vindicated, thanks in large measure to its legal
dream team, from the tony Talladega firm of Weir, White & Thensum.

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: DAN PICASSO