New York, New York — August 26, 2016 – Meister Seelig & Fein LLP announced that a federal judge in Miami has refused to dismiss a lawsuit which the firm filed on behalf of New York Giant defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul against ESPN and its reporter Adam Schefter for wrongfully publishing Mr. Pierre-Paul’s private medical records without his consent.
U.S. District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke, ruling from the bench yesterday during oral argument, denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case, clearing the way for Mr. Pierre-Paul to proceed with the lawsuit.
Meister Seelig & Fein, together with attorneys from Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP of Coral Gables, Florida, commenced the action on behalf of Mr. Pierre-Paul following a fireworks-related accident last year during which Mr. Pierre-Paul injured his hand. He was treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. The suit alleges that the defendants posted Mr. Pierre-Paul’s private medical records, which revealed the details of the injury and treatment, online to millions of readers.
Mr. Pierre-Paul’s legal team includes Meister Seelig & Fein Partners Mitch Schuster and Kevin Fritz, along with John C. Lukacs Sr., a Partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson.
“The Court correctly ruled that Jason properly stated an invasion of privacy claim against ESPN and Adam Schefter, who we allege published Jason’s medical record,” Schuster said. “Today’s ruling is a recognition of Jason’s right, as a professional athlete, to oppose the publication of his medical records without his consent.”
Judge Cooke ruled that Mr. Pierre-Paul had adequately stated a claim for invasion of privacy based on the publication of the medical chart, as distinguished from simply reporting that the amputation of Mr. Pierre-Paul’s finger had occurred. Although Judge Cooke dismissed one claim based on a Florida state statute, the Court allowed Mr. Pierre-Paul’s invasion of privacy claim against Mr. Schefter and the suit’s respondeat superior claim against ESPN to proceed.
The Court also denied defendants’ motion for sanctions under a Florida so-called “SLAPP” statute, designed to protect First Amendment speech, based on the Court’s finding that Mr. Pierre-Paul had proper grounds to commence the suit.
Schuster stated that he now expects the case to proceed quickly through fast-track discovery, which is set to end in February 2017. “One of the things we will be seeking to understand is how Mr. Schefter came into possession of Mr. Pierre-Paul’s medical record in the first place,” Schuster said. “It’s one thing to report the injury, but quite another to publish a private medical record to the world without the individual’s consent.”
Meister Seelig & Fein LLP is a 70-attorney law firm headquartered in New York City.