ESPN continues to firmly believe that its reporting about Mr. Pierre-Paul’s July 2015 injury, including the use of a medical chart that definitively described the seriousness of the injury and resulting treatment, was both newsworthy and journalistically appropriate. Despite their different points of view, the parties have agreed to amicably resolve their dispute rather than continue their litigation.
The case stemmed from a hand injury Pierre-Paul suffered in July 2015 in a fireworks accident. In reporting on the severity of that injury, ESPN reporter Adam Schefter obtained and tweeted photos of Pierre-Paul’s hospital records.
Pierre-Paul sued ESPN and Schefter in Florida state court, alleging that Schefter’s tweet both invaded his privacy and violated Florida’s medical privacy statute. ESPN had the case transferred to federal court and filed a motion to dismiss. Judge Marcia Cooke dismissed the claim that the tweet violated Florida’s medical privacy statute, but denied ESPN’s motion to dismiss the invasion of privacy claim, the type of ruling that famed First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams told me at the time “would imperil a good deal of information.”
Once the judge allowed Pierre-Paul’s invasion of privacy claim to proceed, a settlement was always the most likely outcome. ESPN wants nothing to do with its reporting and internal communications being picked apart in a Florida court room, and for Pierre-Paul the settlement is guaranteed money—ESPN declined to state the amount—as opposed to the risk of getting nothing at trial.