Former Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams sues MLB Network, Deadspin
Erstwhile Phillie Mitch Williams is suing his former employer MLB Network for breach of contract wrongful termination and defamation and Gawker Media, the company that owns sports news site Deadspin, for defamation.
Former Phillie Mitch Williams is suing his former employer MLB Network for breach of contract, wrongful termination and defamation and Gawker Media, the company that owns sports news site Deadspin, for defamation, stemming from a story Deadspin reported about Williams' behavior at his 10-year-old son's baseball tournament. The suit was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County.
"We are aware that Mitch Williams has filed a law suit against MLB Network. We have not received it, but we have reviewed the reported claims in the statement issued today by his lawyer and there are inaccuracies included throughout," a spokesman for MLB Network said. "We can confirm that Mitch Williams is no longer an MLB Network analyst. We believe that the behavior he demonstrated at the youth baseball tournament speaks for itself."
Gawker Media has yet to return a statement.
On May 11, 2014, Deadspin reported from anonymous sources that Williams was ejected from his child's baseball game for arguing and cursing.
Williams apologized, as ordered by the MLB Network, via Twitter:
Another report followed, including Williams allegedly calling a child a lewd name and ordering a 10-year-old to hit the opposing pitcher. The suit claims there is "both written and video evidence contradicting the false and baseless accusations."
On May 17, after the second Deadspin report, Williams took a leave of absence from the MLB Network, as requested by the network, where he worked as an analyst.
"There are people out there who love to bring down celebrities and the internet provides an incredibly easy and powerful forum to destroy a person's reputation in an instant behind a veil of anonymity," Williams' attorney, Laura C. Mattiacci of employment law firm Console Law Offices, said. "When one's reputation and livelihood are crushed by anonymous 'sources' it is absolutely devastating, but there are legal recourses available."
The suit alleges that on June 13, the MLB Network wanted Williams to sign an ammendment to his contract saying he would no longer attend the sporting events of his five children (or as the suit says, "sign away his rights as a father"), including his 11-year-old autistic son. "As alleged in Mr. Williams' complaint, for an employer to make a job contingent upon signing away your right to be with your children, it is crossing the line," Mattiacci said.
When he refused, Williams said he was fired, losing out in the approximately $2 million balance of his contract, along with positions at mlb.com, the Sports Network and Fox Sports. Williams is seeking damages separately from each party.