(CN) – Roger Clemens can’t sue his former trainer in Texas for telling federal investigators that the pitching legend took performance-enhancing drugs, the 5th Circuit ruled, because the allegedly defamatory statements were not “aimed or directed to Texas.”
Clemens sued Brian McNamee in Texas state court, claiming the former athletic trainer defamed him with statements to investigators and the media.
McNamee had been interviewed during the government’s criminal investigation of BALCO, a Bay Area laboratory allegedly involved in developing and selling performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes.
Authorities offered McNamee immunity in exchange for his cooperation in the investigation.
He told investigators that he had injected Clemens with performance-enhancing drugs in 1998, 2000 and 2001. These injections allegedly took place in Toronto and New York, when Clemens played for the Blue Jays and then the Yankees.
The statements were published in the Mitchell Report, led by former Sen. George Mitchell. McNamee also repeated the allegations to a Sports Illustrated writer.
Clemens insisted the trainer injected him only with vitamin B-12 and the painkiller lidocaine, not the drugs listed in the Mitchell Report.
McNamee argued that the pitcher’s defamation lawsuit, which had been removed to federal court, should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, because the trainer didn’t have sufficient ties to Texas.
The federal judge agreed that Texas wasn’t the right venue, and the appeals court in New Orleans affirmed on a 2-1 vote.
“Clemens has not made a prima facie showing that McNamee made statements in which Texas was the focal point: the statements did not concern activity in Texas; nor were they made in Texas or directed to Texas residents any more than residents of any state,” Judge W. Eugene Davis wrote for the majority.
Judge Catharina Haynes dissented, saying McNamee had enough contacts with Texas to establish jurisdiction.
“[T]he exercise of personal jurisdiction does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice,” Haynes wrote.
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