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See You in Court!
August 27, 2007
Handicapping the recent spate of sports-related lawsuits
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August 27, 2007

See You In Court!

Handicapping the recent spate of sports-related lawsuits

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KIA VAUGHN V. DON IMUS

THE CASE: Rutgers center Vaughn is suing the shrunken radiohead for defamation and slander after he called her and her teammates "nappy-headed hos" during a broadcast.

THE EXPERTS SAY: "It's about the word ho and whether that was understood by listeners as meaning she was a prostitute, or promiscuous, in a genuine sense, or if it was simply a slur," says Rodney Smolla, dean of Washington and Lee School of Law. "It may be offensive to a lot of folks, but my instinct is that a court will say you cannot sue on the basis of that phrase, because it's an insult but not libel."

THE PEOPLE SAY: SI asked 12 people on the street their thoughts, and they split down the middle.

BARRY BONDS V. CURT SCHILLING

THE POSSIBLE CASE: Bonds has retained two lawyers who have threatened to sue anyone who has made false and defamatory statements—presumably such as when Schilling implied on HBO's Costas Now that Bonds took steroids.

THE EXPERTS SAY: "All of the testimony to the grand jury and all the BALCO documents would be fair game," says Howard Wasserman, an associate professor of law at Florida International. "If you sue for defamation, you really are putting those statements that you're alleging as false and defamatory out there for repeated public review." Says Smolla, "If he does sue, he's playing with fire. A great example of this is Oscar Wilde, who was accused of [sodomy] and sued for libel. It then came out during the investigation that he was gay, and he was ruined."

THE PEOPLE SAY: Seven sided with Schilling. "Why would Bonds sue if it meant the sealed documents were fair game?" asked one.

JONATHAN LEE RICHES V. BARRY BONDS, BUD SELIG AND HANK AARON'S BAT

THE CASE: The South Carolina inmate filed a suit claiming that the two men and the piece of lumber engaged in a conspiracy to drive up baseball's TV ratings. The suit, which seeks "42,000,000.00 million dollars in Swiss francs," also alleges that Bonds used the bat to crack the Liberty Bell.

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