Alex Rodriguez files two lawsuits
NEW YORK -- The closed-door hearing going on at the Park Avenue offices of Major League Baseball to decide the fate of Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension will not be the last fight between the league and its leading active home run hitter.
It is just the first of many.Rodriguez filed a lawsuit Thursday night in New York State Supreme Court that alleges Major League Baseball and commissioner Bud Selig have had one goal in mind: "to improperly marshal evidence that they hope to use to destroy the reputation and career of Alex Rodriguez." The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages that would be determined at trial.[+] EnlargeRich Schultz/Getty ImagesAlex Rodriguez claims in his lawsuit that MLB bought the cooperation of the chief witness against him.
On Friday night, Rodriguez filed a second lawsuit, against New York Yankees team doctor Chris Ahmad and New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, alleging malpractice for misdiagnosing his left hip injury during the 2012 playoffs. Rodriguez and his lawyers contend Ahmad failed to tell him about an MRI showing his hip injury and are seeking damages.
The Yankees were not named in either suit.
"We are not commenting due to pending litigation," hospital spokeswoman Myrna Manners said Saturday.
MLB issued a statement regarding the initial Rodriguez lawsuit.
"While we vehemently deny the allegations in the complaint, none of those allegations is relevant to the real issue: whether Mr. Rodriguez violated the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program by using and possessing numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years and whether he violated the Basic Agreement by attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner's investigation," the statement read.
Rodriguez's publicist responded in a statement that "Mr. Rodriguez's financial damages lawsuit against Commissioner Selig and Major League Baseball in no way violates the confidentiality provisions of the Joint Drug Agreement. That accusation is preposterous -- and uniquely so coming from MLB, when many of the bases for the complaint filed by Mr. Rodriguez last night arise from MLB's willful and persistent violations of those very confidentiality provisions over the past six months, and beyond.
"As for the Collective Bargaining Agreement's discipline appeal process, Mr. Rodriguez respects the process," the statement read. "He has personally attended and participated in every minute of the arbitration proceeding that began on Monday, has continued every day this week, and will continue hereafter. Mr. Rodriguez has been a Major League Baseball Players Association member for nearly two decades, and he is appalled by the levels to which his league has stooped, as demonstrated in the complaint filed last night.
"Mr. Rodriguez eagerly awaits the day when all of this legal jostling is finished, and he can share his story with the public and his supporters. Until then, he will continue to respect the confidentiality requirements imposed upon all through this process, while his legal team continues to do what is necessary to vindicate him."
Rodriguez addressed the lawsuits after Friday's hearing concluded.
"We're in a process," he said. "The process has to be respected. What I do know is that I'm very happy with the support. I want to give my thanks to all of the Hispanics in the entire world, here in New York City and [who've] been here the entire week. Keep supporting me. Thanks a lot."
The initial 31-page lawsuit levels a series of charges at Selig and MLB, including the allegation that the commissioner has violated the collective bargaining agreement to "make an example of Mr. Rodriguez … to gloss over Selig's past inaction and tacit approval of the use of performance enhancing substances in baseball … in an attempt to secure his legacy as the 'savior' of America's pastime."
Neither Rodriguez nor his attorney, Joseph Tacopina, could be reached for direct comment.
Among the other allegations:
• MLB is paying $5 million to Anthony Bosch, the proprietor of the now-defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic suspected to be a source of illegal PEDs for players, for his cooperation in the league's case against Rodriguez.
• MLB has repeatedly violated terms of a confidentiality agreement between the parties by leaking information damaging to Rodriguez to selected news outlets.
• MLB investigators have bribed and intimidated witnesses and, on at least one occasion, impersonated police officers.
A lawyer for Major League Baseball called a potential witness Feb. 5 "under false pretenses" by responding to "an internet posting." Audio of two voice mail messages allegedly left for the witness, Marcelo Albir, has been obtained by ESPN.
The first voice mail notes the response to the ad. On the second recording, a person identifying himself as Patrick Houlihan, a senior counsel for labor relations with Major League Baseball, said that if Albir did not cooperate with MLB's investigation, he would refer him to law enforcement. Rodriguez's lawsuit claims such a threat is an ethical violation for an attorney in a civil matter.
"Patrick Houlihan acted in a manner consistent with all legal and ethical standards," MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said in a statement. "The wrongdoers are the drug users and the enablers who cover up for them."
Albir's attorney, John C. Lukacs Sr. of Coral Gables, Fla., told ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr. the calls to his client were "flat-out wrong."
"MLB used wholly inappropriate investigative tactics, including the threat of involvement of law enforcement, to coerce whatever information it possibly could to facilitate its administrative prosecution of major league ballplayers," Lukacs said.
The lawsuit also alleges MLB representatives "harassed and threatened" Albir and his family members and friends, misrepresented their identities to security guards outside Albir's gated community in Coral Gables, and posed as police officers.
Bosch, in a statement through a spokeswoman, said the allegation he was "paid for his testimony is absolutely untrue. He hasn't received $5, let alone $5 million.
"This lawsuit appears to be out of the Lance Armstrong playbook and we all know how that worked out for him," the Bosch statement said.
The initial suit is especially critical of Selig, accusing him of presiding over a "scandal-ridden" term as commissioner in which MLB suffered a work stoppage that caused the cancellation of a World Series, willingly allowing the proliferation of PED use in baseball as a means of rebuilding the game's appeal, and adopting an anti-PED stance only under increasing pressure from fans and Congress in 2006.
The suit also alleges Selig and MLB have used media outlets such as the "Late Show with David Letterman" and the "Today Show" to press their case against Rodriguez in what the suit terms a "scorched-earth approach to conducting an investigation."
Rodriguez's suit against Ahmad and New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, meanwhile, will have no bearing on the arbitration hearing.
Dating back to the 2012 playoffs, that lawsuit states "after performing, understanding and analyzing the MRI, had diagnosed Plantiff as suffering from a superior labral tear at the left hip; and without informing the plaintiff of the diagnosis, knowingly cleared the Plaintiff to resume playing as a third baseman for the New York Yankees during the  season playoffs, thus allowing the Plaintiff to further injure himself and the necessity for additional surgeries."
Rodriguez went 3-for-25 in the 2012 playoffs, and ended up being benched and pinch hit for. He sat out the 2013 season until August after surgery on the hip.
The suit states: "A-Rod sustained great pain, agony, injury, suffering disability, hospitalization, as well as mental anguish and emotional distress."
"I don't care what he did with the results, even if he gave them to the Yankees, [Ahmad] had to tell Alex about them," Alan Ripka, Rodriguez's lawyer for the malpractice case, said.
Rodriguez is appealing the 211-game suspension levied against him in August by MLB for his alleged involvement with Bosch and Biogenesis. Thirteen other players, including 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun, have accepted suspensions ranging from 50 games -- the CBA-stipulated punishment for a first-time offender -- to 65 games for Braun.
If Rodriguez's case isn't settled, a decision by Horowitz is expected this winter.
Also Saturday, The New York Times reported on its website that Rodriguez's lawyers at Reed Smith sent a letter to the players' association General Counsel David Prouty on Aug. 22 asking that a union lawyer be replaced as his representative in the grievance by one of his personal attorneys. The lawyers also criticized union head Michael Weiner, who is battling a brain tumor, for comments he made about the case.
Rodriguez's lawyers were critical of Weiner for saying in an XM Radio interview in August that he advised Rodriguez to accept a suspension of a certain length -- less than MLB was willing to settle for. They said in the letter that Weiner's statements could "irretrievably corrupt the arbitration process" and "are clearly inconsistent with the MLBPA's duty to fairly and ardently represent Mr. Rodriguez."
Information from ESPN's TJ Quinn and Don Van Natta Jr., ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand and Mike Mazzeo, and The Associated Press was included in this report.
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