Major League Baseball reacted to Alex Rodriguez's lawsuit Monday by filing a motion requesting that the case be moved to federal court. After jurisdiction is decided, MLB is expected to file a motion to dismiss the suit, a person familiar with its thinking said Monday night.
The motion to move to a federal court was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District. Rodriguez filed last Thursday in New York State Supreme Court.
Rodriguez's suit claimed MLB and commissioner Bud Selig, who is named as a defendant, are conducting a "witch hunt" and want to remove him from baseball. Rodriguez is appealing a 211-game suspension handed down Aug. 5 for his alleged connection to Biogenesis, a now-closed anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied players with performance-enhancing drugs.
In seeking removal from state court, MLB's motion cited Article XI of the Basic Agreement, saying it "contains an exclusive grievance and arbitration provision the Joint Drug Agreement specifically provides that disputes arising thereunder shall be subject to resolution through the Grievance Procedure of the Basic Agreement . . . Both agreements provide for the resolution of disputes through private final and binding arbitration."
Joe Tacopina, an attorney from one of three firms that launched the suit on behalf of Rodriguez, issued a statement saying the case should remain in state court. Tacopina said, "Mr. Rodriguez's claims against MLB and commissioner Selig arise from their tortious conduct, separate and apart from the issues being decided in the arbitration process. It is ironic that MLB -- having filed suit in state court in Florida for tortious interference in order to obtain evidence to use in the arbitration proceeding -- now complains that Mr. Rodriguez's tortious interference claim must be heard as part of the arbitration. MLB knows that these state law claims properly belong where they were filed, in the New York State Court.''
Manhattan attorney Stephan Kallas said MLB's contention is "this is a federal law case, the labor management relations act applies and they essentially are saying the arbitration and grievance procedures in the collectively bargained for agreement doesn't allow A-Rod to bring the suit."