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Holding Court
Steve Rushin
May 17, 1999
With ESPN and baseball rattling their legal sabers, can other tort tussles be far behind?
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May 17, 1999

Holding Court

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

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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:

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 TVs 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.

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