MLB Players Move to Compel Discovery Yet Again in Al Jazeera Libel Suit

 On April 20, 2018, MLB players Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Howard, plaintiffs in the Al Jazeera libel case, filed another motion to compel discovery in the ongoing battle. As we have previously reported, this is not the players’ first attempt at extracting additional information from defendant Al Jazeera amid discovery. The defamation suit stems from their production and airing of a 2015 documentary, called “The Dark Side,” which accused the MLB players of using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) while playing for the MLB.

The entire documentary is purportedly based off of statements made by pharmacist Charles Sly, who avowed that the athletes ordered several shipments of the PEDs he had been selling. According to Zimmerman and Howard, the particularly egregious aspect is that Sly recanted his statements prior to the publication of the documentary, claiming that he had been lying about the serious accusations. In support of that, in 2016, the MLB confirmed that the players did not have such drugs in either of their systems. Their suit asserts that not only were the highly publicized allegations patently untrue, but that their reputations were significantly harmed as a result.

Zimmerman and Howard are now seeking information from Al Jazeera regarding its motive, ratings, financial investment in the documentary, marketing techniques used to promote the documentary, text messages, and miscellaneous documents relating to Sly, among much other information. The players also allege that Al Jazeera has placed an “unduly restrictive date range for its document production,” which has impeded their ability to retrieve “relevant, discoverable information,” despite their own unhindered cooperation with discovery throughout the process.


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