Alex Rodriguez files lawsuit to reverse baseball ban
Dispute escalates after '60 Minutes' details
January 13, 2014 11:56 PM
Charles Cherney/Associated Press
New York Yankees star player Alex Rodriguez
By Steve Eder / New York Times News Service
NEW YORK -- Lawyers for New York Yankees' embattled star Alex Rodriguez went to federal court Monday in Manhattan to try to halt his season-long doping suspension.
In the court filing, which named Major League Baseball and the players union, Rodriguez's lawyers sought to vacate his ban for the 2014 season and accused the players union of breaching its duty to represent Rodriguez fairly.
The filing, provided by Rodriguez's lawyers, also accuses Fredric Horowitz, MLB's chief arbitrator, of exhibiting "a manifest disregard for the law" and claims that he was not impartial and that he refused to hear evidence in Rodriguez's appeal of the suspension imposed against him in 2013.
The legal maneuver came two days after Horowitz upheld most of that 211-game ban, reducing it Saturday to 162 regular-season games and the postseason in 2014.
Rodriguez repeatedly has denied that he used performance-enhancing drugs while with the Yankees, and after the arbitration decision he vowed to continue fighting his suspension in the courts.
But he is likely to face obstacles in getting a judge to intervene on his behalf, legal experts say. It is unusual for a judge to halt an arbitrator's decision in a situation such as this, where the sides have a collectively bargained process for handling disputes.
"It's incredibly difficult," said Andrew Torrez, an employment law expert with the firm Zuckerman Spaeder, adding, "Only if the arbitrator conducted the hearing in a way that was fundamentally unfair to Alex Rodriguez is there likely to be any chance of overturning the arbitration award."
For example, Rodriguez's lawyers will need to convince the judge that Horowitz was biased, did not allow relevant evidence to be heard or had exceeded his authority, Torrez said.
Lawyers for all of the sides appeared in front of William H. Pauley, a federal judge presiding over the case, Monday morning, to decide on a request that portions of the arbitrator's decision be kept confidential. Pauley, according to a transcript provided by Rodriguez's representatives, denied the request, noting that MLB commissioner Bud Selig appeared on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday night to discuss the case.
"Given the intense public interest in this matter and Commissioner Selig's disclosures [Sunday] night on '60 Minutes,' it's difficult to imagine that any portion of this proceeding should be under seal," Pauley said, according to the transcript.
As a result, Horowitz's written decision, which had been kept confidential, was released Monday at the court filing, for the first time giving some clues as to his rationale for issuing a season-long ban. It was unclear what, if any, the request to vacate the decision would have on a suit Rodriguez's lawyers filed in October, which accused MLB and Selig of interfering with Rodriguez's business relationships and engaging in a "witch hunt" as they investigated him for using banned performance-enhancing substances. That case is pending.
Horowitz's much anticipated ruling is hardly the end of the dispute. On Sunday, a day after Horowitz issued his ruling, which was widely seen as a victory for the MLB commissioner's office, Selig and Rob Manfred, the league executive who oversaw the case, appeared on CBS' "60 Minutes," where they were interviewed about various aspects of the investigation. They appeared with the league's main witness, Anthony Bosch, who said that he had personally injected Rodriguez.
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