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Cardinals ordered to pay former staff govt $3 million for defamation, per report

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The Arizona Cardinals are being ordered to pay ex-team govt Terry McDonough $3 million for “false and defamatory” statements made about him publicly to the media, per a federal court docket choice filed on Monday, in accordance with ESPN

Jeffrey Mishkin, the league arbitrator chosen by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, dominated that Arizona and its proprietor, Michael Bidwill, defamed McDonough “with malice” in a multi-page assertion to media organizations, alleging McDonough dedicated spousal abuse and uncared for his disabled, grownup daughter. McDonough denied these claims. 

Mike Caspino, McDonough’s counsel, filed the choice with the U.S. District Court docket in Arizona on Monday as a step within the authorized course of for the court docket to verify his awarded compensation. 

“Regardless of what we take into account to be a essentially unfair arbitration course of, Terry McDonough is the primary particular person to ever win in opposition to an NFL proprietor,” Caspino stated by way of an announcement on the court docket submitting, per ESPN. “Why the NFL has not held Michael Bidwill accountable stays a thriller.” 

The $3 million McDonough is about to obtain is an efficient amount of cash, however it’s a far cry from what he sought to obtain in court docket. He filed for $15 million in misplaced future earnings, $10 million for emotional misery, $10 million for reputational hurt and between $60 to $90 million in punitive damages. 

Mishkin awarded him $150,000 on the whole damages for “the hurt to his repute” the defamatory statements precipitated, $600,000 in damages for emotional misery and $2.25 million in punitive damages. 

The league and the Cardinals haven’t but made public remarks concerning the case. Nonetheless, McDonough did not win on a few of his different claims centered round illegal retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional misery and invasion of privateness. This arbitration declare was introduced by McDonough in opposition to Arizona final April after he alleged that Bidwill retaliated in opposition to him after he stated he wasn’t comfy with the Cardinals’ use of burner telephones to speak with former basic supervisor Steve Keim, who was suspended for “excessive” DUI on the time. 

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McDonough, the staff’s vp of participant personnel, was fired in January 2023 — lower than a 12 months after signing a two-year contract extension in Could of 2022. His termination occurred three months earlier than his arbitration criticism. The Cardinals statements had been discovered to be “false and defamatory” as McDonough’s and his spouse’s testimonies offered a transparent image that McDonough “by no means dedicated an act of home violence or home abuse” and that “McDonough has by no means deserted duty for his daughter or lower her off financially.” 

The Cardinals procured data relating to allegations of spousal abuse in opposition to McDonough from his ex-father-in-law. He despatched a letter to then-Arizona broad receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and the wideout handed over the letter to a staff govt. The letter was then positioned in McDonough’s worker file, the place it sat till the staff went to place out an announcement about his dismissal in 2023. 

Mishkin deemed Arizona’s “personal conduct in giving the letter no credence or consideration by any means on the time they obtained it’s clear proof of their very own subjective doubts concerning the veracity and accuracy of the allegations.” The arbitrator additionally pointed to emails from McDonough and his spouse about youngster help funds, and Bidwill stated he provided him a 2019 contract that may have allowed him to stay in North Carolina close to his daughter. McDonough was amicable to that association. 

It was discovered that the Cardinals used burner telephones, however the league arbiter didn’t discover in help of McDonough’s allegation that he was prevented from being an NFL basic supervisor due to the conduct. His sole basic supervisor interview got here with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017.  

“In publicly attacking Mr. McDonough’s private character by publishing false and defamatory statements solely unrelated to issues at problem within the arbitration was unjustified within the circumstances and is deserving of punishment,” Mishkin wrote.  

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