A-Rod files lawsuits against MLB, doctor
League calls filing 'a clear violation' of drug program's confidentiality provisions
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez entered his appeal of a 211-game suspension saying that he was going to be "fighting for my life and my whole legacy." With the assistance of his attorneys, the Yankees slugger has taken two big swings.
Rodriguez first filed suit against Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan on Thursday, accusing them of conducting a "witch hunt" and engaging in "tortious interference" with his contracts and business relationships.
The Manhattan lawsuit is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for what it alleges has been a campaign by MLB to "destroy the reputation and career of Alex Rodriguez."
The three-time Most Valuable Player then filed suit against Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in Bronx Supreme Court, claiming that Ahmad misdiagnosed Rodriguez's hip injury during the 2012 playoffs.
The Bronx lawsuit alleges "careless and professional negligence" on the part of Ahmad, who is said to have missed a superior labral tear at the left hip, "thus allowing [Rodriguez] to further injure himself and the necessity for additional surgeries." The Yankees were not named in the lawsuit, and had no comment on either suit.
In response to the Manhattan filing, MLB issued the following statement on Friday:
"For the more than four decades that we have had a collective bargaining relationship with the Major League Baseball Players Association, every player and club dispute has gone through the jointly agreed upon grievance process. This lawsuit is a clear violation of the confidentiality provisions of our drug program, and it is nothing more than a desperate attempt to circumvent the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"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."
Through a publicist, Ron Berkowitz, Rodriguez released a statement explaining his thought process behind the lawsuit against MLB and Selig.
"The entire legal dynamic is very complex, and my legal team is doing what they need to in order to vindicate me and pursue all of my rights," Rodriguez said. "This matter is entirely separate from the ongoing arbitration. I look forward to the arbitration proceedings continuing, and for the day to come when I can share my story with the public and my supporters."
In response to MLB's statement, Rodriguez's representatives issued another release on Friday:
"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. 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's lawsuit against Ahmad and the hospital recalls Oct. 11, 2012, the date of Game 4 of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and Orioles in New York. Rodriguez had an MRI performed on his right hip before traveling to Baltimore.
On Aug. 18 of this year in Boston, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reiterated that Rodriguez entered the 2012 playoffs with no physical complaints. Rodriguez finally did mention hip discomfort in Game 3 of the ALDS, but only after manager Joe Girardi had decided to pinch-hit for Rodriguez with Raul Ibanez.
At the time, Rodriguez told Girardi that he believed he was being bothered by his surgically repaired right hip, not the left, which eventually needed surgery. Rodriguez's lawsuit charges that Ahmad and the hospital had a "failure to timely evaluate and treat" Rodriguez "with the accepted and proper medical management, and all without any fault or lack of care on the part of" Rodriguez.
After performing poorly during the American League Championship Series against the Tigers, Rodriguez had surgery performed on his left hip on Jan. 16 by a different physician, Dr. Bryan Kelly of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
Rodriguez's lawsuit filed Friday stated that he "sustained great pain, agony, injury, suffering, disability, hospitalization, as well as mental anguish and emotional distress" as a result of Ahmad's actions.
In the 31-page Manhattan complaint, constructed by lawyers from three firms: Reed Smith; Tacopina Seigel and Turano; and Gordon and Rees, Rodriguez alleges that MLB is paying $5 million for the testimony of Anthony Bosch, the founder of the now-defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla.
The suit further states that an investigator for the league paid $150,000 in cash for Biogenesis records related to Rodriguez, "handed off in a bag in a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area restaurant," and claims that investigators engaged in "vigilante justice," including episodes of intimidating and bullying witnesses.
Further, Rodriguez's lawsuit states that MLB has leaked stories to the media regarding the Rodriguez investigation and discipline, "turning what is supposed to be a confidential disciplinary and appeal process into a public trial of Mr. Rodriguez."
As a result of the league's investigation, Rodriguez claims that his reputation has been "permanently harmed," affecting his future earning abilities in the tens of millions of dollars. Two potential sponsors, Nike and Toyota, have terminated negotiations with Rodriguez.
The suit states that the investigation has affected Rodriguez's ability to run his businesses, including a construction company and a Mercedes-Benz dealership near Houston. Also mentioned is that Rodriguez's likeness and voice were cut from the film "Henry & Me," an animated feature that chronicles the Yankees' history and features team stars past and present.