With steroids running rampant in the world of professional athletes, many people just assume that most, if not all, prominent athletes are using some sort of drug (or drugs) to artificially enhance their performance. At the same time, many people who idolize certain athletes and look up to them as role models are crushed when they find out these athletes have been taking drugs to gain an unfair advantage. The field of professional athletes is extremely competitive, and when millions of dollars are on the line, the temptation to do whatever it takes to be the best can sometimes be too much to resist.
But all artificial performance enhancers are banned from professional sports. As a result, when an athlete is caught using illegal drugs, it usually means the end of their career. Because using the drugs is both immoral and illegal, any accusation of drug use must be taken very seriously.
In a documentary called The Dark Side, which aired on Al Jazeera America on December 27th, 2015, Ryan Howard and Ryan Zimmerman, among others, were accused of allegedly using an anabolic agent called “D-2”. Howard is first baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies and Zimmerman is first baseman for the Washington Nationals.
The documentary’s only source is Charlie Sly, a former pharmacy intern at a clinic in Indianapolis. In the documentary, Sly alleges he supplied Howard, Zimmerman, and Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, with performance-enhancing drugs.
Attorneys for both Howard and Zimmerman sent cease and desist letters to Al Jazeera before the document aired on TV. Sly also recanted his statements the day before the documentary aired, but the cable network decided to continue with airing the documentary anyway.
That left Howard and Zimmerman with no choice but to file claims against Al Jazeera for defamation. Manning has also threatened legal action, but has not yet filed any claims. The attorneys for Howard and Zimmerman allege the financial damage inflicted on their clients as a result of the false statements made by the documentary amount to millions of dollars. Each first baseman has filed their lawsuit seeking damages of more than $75,000.
Plaintiffs filing claims for defamation have a hard road ahead of them. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly protects the right to free speech for all its citizens and institutions. Defamation is illegal, but the plaintiffs as public figures must prove the defendant knew the statements were false at the time they were made, and that the defendant acted with the intention of using the false statement to inflict harm on the plaintiff. Plaintiffs also open up their reputations to scrutiny and run the risk of creating a lot more negative publicity for themselves.
The First Amendment especially protects speech regarding a public figure. The goal of the amendment is to promote free discussion of public figures, with the assumption that such discussion is good for the public. Public figures (like Howard and Zimmerman) therefore have a higher burden of proof to bear when claiming they suffered measurable damages as a result of the alleged defamation. Proving that their careers and/or reputation suffered as a direct result of the defamation can be difficult to prove, unless the players are fired from the NBA.
Our Chicago libel and slander lawyers concentrate in this area of the law. We have defended or prosecuted a number of defamation and libel cases, including cases representing a consumer sued by a large luxury used car dealer in federal court for hundreds of negative internet reviews and videos which resulted in substantial media coverage of the suit; one of Loyola University’s largest contributors when the head basketball coach sued him for libel after he was fired; and a lawyer who was falsely accused of committing fraud with the false allegation published to the Dean of the University of Illinois School of Law, where the lawyer attended law school and the President of the University of Illinois. One of our partners also participated in representing a high profile athlete against a well-known radio shock jock.
Our Chicago defamation attorneys defend individuals’ First Amendment and free speech rights to post on Facebook, Yelp and other websites information that criticizes businesses and addresses matters of public concern. Our Chicago Cybersquatting attorneys also represent and prosecute claims on behalf of businesses throughout the Chicago area including in Naperville, Burr Ridge, and Hinsdale, who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and offline media. We have successfully represented businesses who have been the victim of competitors setting up false rating sites and pretend consumer rating sites that are simply forums to falsely bash or business clients. We have also represented and defended consumers First Amendment and free speech rights to criticize businesses who are guilty of consumer fraud and false advertising.
Super Lawyers named Chicago and Oak Brook business trial attorney Peter Lubin a Super Lawyer in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Chicago business trial lawyers have over a quarter of a century of experience in litigating complex class action, consumer rights, and business and commercial litigation disputes. We handle emergency business lawsuits involving injunctions, and TROS, defamation, libel, and covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud or defamatory attacks on their business and reputations.
Lubin Austermuehle’s Mokena and Frankfurt defamation and slander lawyers have more than two and half decades of experience helping business clients unravel the complexities of Illinois and out-of-state business laws. Our Chicago business, commercial, class-action, and consumer litigation lawyers represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners and shareholders as well as lawsuits between businesses and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. From offices in Oak Brook, near Arlington Heights and Naperville, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.
If you are the victim of a defamatory attack on your business or a consumer who has been sued to stop you from posting criticism of a business online at Yelp or anywhere else, contact one of our Oak Brook and Chicago defamation lawyers for a free consultation at 630-333-0333 or online by filling out our contact us form.