Proskauer Steps Up for MLB in Latest A-Rod Legal Drama
UPDATES: 10/7/13, 11:25 a.m. EDT. The names of the full Proskauer team advising MLB have been added to the 16th paragraph of this story. The New York Times reported Saturday that Rodriguez and his legal team are at odds with the MLBPA, which has been kept out of the loop of his litigation strategy. 10/7/13, 5:50 p.m. EDT MLB has filed a motion to have Rodriguez's suit removed to federal court, according to ESPN.com, which also notes that further proceedings in his arbitration appeal have been delayed until October 15.
Proskauer Rose, no stranger to advising professional sports leagues and franchises, has been retained by Major League Baseball for a scandal-soaked suit filed Friday by embattled New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and his lawyers from Reed Smith, Gordon & Rees, and New York's Tacopina Seigel & Turano.
As The Am Law Daily reported in August, Rodriguez retained Reed Smith commercial litigation cohead Jordan Siev and investment management chair James McCarroll earlier this year to advise him in his dealings with MLB amid its push to hit the steroid-tainted slugger with a 211-game suspension. By then, Rodriguez was already being advised by sports and entertainment lawyer Wm. David Cornwell Sr., a well-regarded player advocate whose Atlanta-based firm was absorbed by Gordon & Rees last year.
All three lawyers are identified in the complaint filed Friday as representing Rodriguez in connection with the litigation, as is Joseph Tacopina, a high-profile New York criminal defense lawyer also retained by the injury-prone third baseman as he seeks to preserve what's left of the $275 million contract he signed with the Yankees in late 2007.
The 31-page suit filed by Rodriguez and his all-star legal team in New York State Supreme Court contains a host of bombshell claims, including the allegation that Selig and MLB engaged in a "witch hunt" designed to impugn Rodriguez's character and cost him millions of dollars in endorsement deals.
The suit is the latest legal salvo fired between Rodriguez and MLB amid the league's effort to impose a stiff ban on the high-paid Yankee for allegedly violating the joint drug agreement that prohibits players from using performance-enhancing substances as part of the collective bargaining agreement with the players' union.
MLB moved to punish Rodriguez after he was identified as one of 13 MLB players tied to a South Florida anti-aging clinic called Biogenesis that was the subject of a January story in the Miami New Times detailing the sales of certain performance-enhancing substances to various players. Alone among the Biogenesis-linked players to challenge his suspension, Rodriguez is appealing his ban through an arbitration process that began this week along with the MLB playoffs.
The Biogenesis fiasco is the latest embarrassment to the league's attempt at image-repair in the wake of a decade of purportedly rampant steroid use that baseball purists claim has soiled the game's record books and tarred the reputation of one of the nation's most popular sports. (The rehabilitation campaign began, in large part, with the DLA Piper-backed Mitchell Report in 2008.)
A half-dozen law firms are advising various parties in connection with the Biogenesis fallout, according to our previous reports, with the Major League Baseball Players Association retaining Michael Rubin from San Francisco's Altshuler Berzon to advise on a probe by the league into the clinics' relationship with certain players.
That investigation—and a MLB suit filed in Florida federal court earlier this year against Biogenesis and its benefactors—is a central focus of the civil case filed Friday by Rodriguez against the league and commissioner Allan "Bud" Selig.
The Yankees star accuses MLB of paying $5 million to Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch—who is reportedly the target of a federal criminal investigation—in order to "buy his cooperation" in the league's case against Rodriguez. The complaint also accuses MLB of other "ethically challenged behavior," such as intimidating potential witnesses and handing over a bag of $150,000 in cash to Biogenesis's former marketing director in a Fort Lauderdale restaurant in return for key clinic records.