Aug 20, 2013, 5:01 PM EDT
Alex Rodriguez‘s cousin Yuri Sucart has filed a writ with a Florida appellate court challenging the validity of Major League Baseball’s lawsuit against Biogenesis: the lawsuit which gave Major League Baseball the handle with which to turn Anthony Bosch and others as it pursued Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and other ballplayers who were alleged to have done business with the Biogenesis clinic.
Sucart is not a defendant in that lawsuit, but Major League Baseball did seek to take his deposition and sought to obtain documents and his medical records. Sucart challenged MLB’s right to do so, seeking an order from the trial court preventing the deposition from taking place. That effort was denied and now he has filed today’s writ with the Third District Court of Appeal.
The basis for the appeal, which NBC Sports.com has obtained, includes some arguments which would relate only to Sucart, such as his rights under The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and his standing as a non-party to challenge the trial court’s orders. But Sucart also challenges the very foundation of the lawsuit, arguing that the trial court has no jurisdiction to hear Major League Baseball’s case at all. The reason: the dispute requires the interpretation of baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement in order to determine whether it was breached and state courts are forbidden from interpreting a collective bargaining agreement by operation of the Labor Management Relations Act.
Major League Baseball will have a chance to respond to Sucart’s arguments. It will likely be weeks, and possibly months, before the court rules.
Sucart’s attorney, Jeffrey Sonn of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida law firm of Sonn & Erez PLC, told NBC Sports.com that if Sucart’s challenge is successful, it not only would mean an end to the Biogenesis case, but it could make waves for player-owner relations in baseball as a whole:
“In my opinion, if the 3rd district court of appeals agrees with our premise … I think the players would have a tremendous lawsuit against baseball for violation of their due process rights and other claims for violating the collective bargaining agreement. It would be tantamount to baseball knowingly violating the players’ rights. The bottom line is if you make a deal with the players, and you don’t like the deal, go renegotiate it. Don’t run to court. Don’t trample on people’s private rights.”
Sonn went beyond the implications of this writ, however, and offered an indictment of the CBA and Joint Drug Agreement overall, saying, “The method of the CBA, which basically holds you guilty until it proves you innocent, is antithetical to our justice system in that it holds you guilty until it proves you innocent. It is un-American.”
The overarching argument may be a moot one given that the MLBPA and all of the accused players with the exception of Alex Rodriguez have gotten on board with baseball’s Biogenesis investigation, accepting their punishment. With respect to Rodriguez, the evidence Major League Baseball will use against him at his upcoming arbitration has already been obtained.
But this appeal could test Major League Baseball’s ability to aggressively pursue similar cases under the theory it employed when it filed the Biogenesis suit. And, if successful, it could render any discipline it ultimately obtains against Alex Rodriguez the product of evidence that, were the law followed and the suit not filed, would likely have never fallen into baseball’s hands in the first place.
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