On February 24 Jason Pierre-Paul filed a lawsuit against ESPN and its NFL insider, Adam Schefter, for releasing his private medical records that revealed he would need surgery to amputate his right index finger.
Pierre-Paul, 27, is seeking more than $15,000 in damages saying Schefter violated his privacy by posting his medical records on Twitter for his 4 million followers to see. The lawsuit specifically says the reporter “improperly obtained” the records while “JPP” was being treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.
Schefter’s infamous tweet confirmed the rumors swirling around the story that the lineman severely injured his hand due to a fireworks mishap on July 4 of last year. Posted four days after the accident, the tweet received major backlash from fans and players alike. Former teammate, Justin Tuck, and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, James Harrison, were among those who deemed the release “unethical.”
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Schefter said he “could have and should have done even more to protect” the medical records, but did admit he viewed it as “doing my job.”
Recently, New York Giants co-owner, Steve Tisch, told TMZ that he “supports” JPP’s decision to sue as he says, “Medical records are confidential. I mean, it’s a total invasion of the HIPAA laws…Medical records are not to be released.”
Does JPP have a legitimate case against the sports network and its reporter?
Tisch made reference to the HIPAA, or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act laws that protect medical information. The hospital fired two of its employees as they broke these laws finding they “inappropriately” gained access to JPP’s file.
The case, however, will most likely focus on the invasion of privacy by Schefter who, as the suit states, has ”blatant disregard for the private and confidential” records. As is common among reporters, the desire to break a major story may lead to the violation of fundamental ethical codes, which is entirely unacceptable.
The Society of Professional Journalist “Code of Ethics” states a journalist should always “balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort” to the subject. Schefter clearly overstepped this boundary as his greed to release the records created a frenzy that led the Giants to find out through Twitter what had happened instead of from JPP himself. Some believe this was the reason he refused to see head coach, Tom Coughlin, and other executives while recovering.
Along with the case, JPP will focus heavily on his football career. With free agency officially under way, the Giants will soon address what they wish to do with their Pro Bowl defensive end.