Saikali Talks NFL, ESPN Privacy Suit

Shook, Hardy & Bacon Partner and co-chair of Shook’s data security and privacy practice Al Saikali discusses an NFL player’s plan to use a broad Florida medical disclosure law to hold ESPN and a reporter liable for posting a photo of his medical records on social media in a February 26 Law360 article titled “NFL Player Must Tackle Common Privacy Pratfall In ESPN Suit.” The medical records documented the amputation of a finger after a fireworks accident.

Before New York Giants player Jason Pierre-Paul can ask the court to hold ESPN liable, he faces the same hurdle as all privacy plaintiffs: he must prove that the disclosure of his personal information caused him measurable harm. Even if he can prove harm, the First Amendment protects free speech – especially that of the media – and presents another hurdle for his success in court.

Speaking on the likelihood of the case’s success, Saikali says that "[the] violation of the statute could result in a sanction against the violating entity by a regulatory board, and such a sanction could include revocation of a license. The board doesn't regulate the third party, such as a reporter, however."

Saikali believes it’s most likely that the suit will end in a settlement, saying, "My gut feeling is that this lawsuit is being filed primarily because ESPN is a deep pocket and a potential target for a quick settlement.”