Roger Clemens Loses Defamation Lawsuit Appeal
HOUSTON -- A federal appeals court Thursday refused to reinstate a defamation lawsuit disgraced former pitcher Roger Clemens filed against his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, who claims he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone more than a dozen times.
In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a Houston federal district judge's dismissal last year of most of Clemens' claims against McNamee.
Clemens appealed the decision by U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison, who said his court didn't have jurisdiction over Clemens' claims involving statements McNamee made in New York.
"The statements were not made in Texas or directed to residents of Texas," the New Orleans-based appeals court said. The three-judge court panel heard arguments in the case last month.
"We haven't read it yet, but I can tell you what we would say," Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said. "We understand that the vote was 2-1 and we're going to look at it and see if we're going to pursue it and make up our mind after we get a chance to read and digest it."
McNamee's attorney, Richard Emery, didn't immediately respond to telephone and e-mail messages from The Associated Press.
Clemens denied using performance-enhancing drugs when he testified under oath to Congress in 2008, but he is under investigation for possible perjury charges.
His attorneys argued Ellison erred when he ruled McNamee is entitled to immunity for statements he made to baseball investigator George Mitchell. They contend the protection doesn't extend to the Mitchell commission, even though McNamee spoke to the panel as part of his cooperation with federal investigators.
McNamee met with federal investigators in New York and said he had injected Clemens with steroids and HGH in New York, but never in Texas, where the major league pitcher lived and trained during the offseason. After the Mitchell report's release, McNamee repeated those allegations during an interview at his New York home with Jon Heyman, a writer for SI.com.
Clemens' attorneys said the case could be tried in Houston because McNamee had visited Clemens in Texas dozens of times and knew his statements would harm his reputation in his home state.
The court said Thursday that Clemens failed to show 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," the majority decision said. "As such, the district court did not err in dismissing Clemens' suit for lack of personal jurisdiction over McNamee."
In an 11-page dissent, three pages longer than the court's decision, Judge Catharina Haynes said she believed jurisdiction did exist in Texas and that McNamee's business trips to the state "form a part of and 'relate to' the training relationship from which the alleged steroid regimen either arose (McNamee's version) or did not arise (Clemens's version).
"McNamee's numerous visits to Texas were business contacts with Clemens in the course of the very training relationship that did -- or did not -- give rise to the steroid use," the judge wrote. "Clemens has an equal, if not greater, interest in securing relief in his home state, where the brunt of the injury to his personal and professional reputation was sustained."