Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Atlanta Georgia
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Falcons sued for invasion of privacy
A player is suing the Falcons for unauthorized disclosure of his confidetial medical information, which can result in civil liability under federal law (HIPPA). I don't think the CBA covers this sort of matter. Ought to be interesting
By D. ORLANDO LEDBETTER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/28/07
Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson, who started all 16 games last season, is suing the franchise for invasion of privacy and defamation over the alleged unauthorized release of his medical records, the player's attorney said Tuesday.
"It [the lawsuit] was just filed [Monday] and it was served on the Atlanta Falcons Football Club, today," said Eric Farber, Jackson's San Francisco-based attorney.
A Falcons spokesman acknowledged the team had been served with the lawsuit, adding there were other motives behind the move.
"We are disappointed that Grady Jackson's agent has taken this action," Falcons vice president of football communications Reggie Roberts said by telephone, reading from a prepared statement. "We believe that this is a continuing attempt by the agent to gain a new contract for his client."
Jackson's agent, Angelo Wright, of Hayward, Calif., denied that he is driving the lawsuit.
"This is Grady Jackson's lawsuit, and it's time that they recognize that," Wright said. "Again they continue to insult Grady Jackson and that he can think as a grown man with a brain. They have fostered a climate of personal disrespect to Grady Jackson both as a football player and a man."
While Jackson was a free agent last season, reports surfaced in April that he had heart issues and had flunked a team's physical exam. The Falcons later signed Jackson, who is listed at 350 pounds and is one of the largest players in the league, in August.
"Essentially the Atlanta Falcons released private and personal health information to the press without authority when Grady Jackson was a free agent and not under contract," Farber said.
Rich McKay, the Falcons president and general manager, was in Arizona for the NFL owners meeting and did not make himself available for an interview.
In August, Jackson, a 10-year veteran, was signed to a three-year contract and received a $300,000 signing bonus from the Falcons. He played last season for the league veteran minimum salary of $710,000. He's set to make base salaries of $1.5 million in 2007 and 2008.
Jackson would like to have his contract redone to be more in line with other veteran starting defensive tackles. The average pay for the top five players at that position is $6.8 million.
Farber is lead counsel in the case and is working with Atlanta firm Cozen O'Conner and its managing partner Samuel Solomon Woodhouse III.
Jackson lawyers' contend the Falcons released the medical information and hurt his value in the free agency market.
It is rare for a player under contract to file a suit against his current team. Usually, players have contract or injury grievances that are dealt with under the league's collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association.
With Jackson anchoring the middle of the defense, the Falcons improved from 26th (128.9 yards per game) against the run in 2005 to ninth (103.6) in the league last season. He was the only projected starter on the defensive line to play in all 16 games as Rod Coleman, John Abraham and Patrick Kerney all suffered injuries.
Kerney, a defensive end, recently signed a six-year, $39.5-million free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks.
Jackson, who finished with 33 tackles and two passes defensed, turned down several requests for an interview. The Falcons started their voluntary offseason conditioning program earlier this month and Jackson has been a no-show.
The Falcons, attempting to reinforce the defensive tackle position, claimed Anthony Bryant off waivers from Detroit. He played in eight games over two years, with three starts. They also had Chicago's Ian Scott in for a visit, but negotiations have cooled.
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