Photo via GOLF.com
Media outlets criticizing professional athletes is just a part of the entertainment business, right? Patrick Reed believes Golf Channel has gone too far and claims that they have defamed him. Patrick Reed, former PGA Tour player and current LIV Tour player, withdrew his $750 million lawsuit against Golf Channel and analyst Brandel Chamblee from Texas federal court – only to refile and add new defendants in the state of Florida. The new defendants consist of: Golf Channel’s Shane Bacon, Damon Hack and Eamon Lynch, along with parent companies Golfweek and Gannett. Reed claims the defendants’ public statements have injured his reputation.
Reed may have an uphill climb to proving that Golf Channel defamed him. To prove prima facie defamation, a plaintiff must show four things: 1) a false statement purporting to be fact; 2) publication or communication of that statement to a third person; 3) fault amounting to at least negligence; and 4) damages, or some harm caused to the reputation of the person or entity who is the subject of that statement. Reed, as a public figure, has a heightened legal standard to prevail on his defamation claim.
Reed’s suit alleges that “calculated, malicious, false and/or reckless attacks” have led to him losing several multi-million dollar sponsorships and had a direct effect on him and his family’s livelihood. The complaint alleges, “Defendants have conspired as joint tortfeasors for and with the PGA Tour, its executives, and Monohan to engage in a pattern and practice of defaming Mr. Reed, misreporting information with actual knowledge or falsity and/or reckless disregard of the truth, that is with actual or constitutional malice, purposefully omitting pertinent key material facts to mislead the public, and actively targeting Mr. Reed since he was 23 years old, to destroy his reputation, create hate, and a hostile work environment for him . . . Mr. Reed has been abused and endured more than any golfer from fans or spectators who have been allowed to scream obscenities, only to be glorified by Defendant Golf Channel for doing . . . For defendants, it does not matter how badly they destroy someone’s name and life, so long as they rake in more dollars and profit.”
Reed made two blatant mistakes in his previous complaint, which is likely why he refiled this most recent version. His previous complaint referenced the “Skip Bayless school of sports analysis,” which is considered speech protected by defamation law, and a similar defamation suit filed by the ‘Tiger Woods Camp’ (where no suit emerged). It is likely that Reed’s updated complaint will also fail, given that the statements referenced in the complaint are clearly statements of opinion and/or fact, or speech that is protected by defamation law.