April 15, 2024

Cardinals accept responsibility for P.R. statement about Terry McDonough that “went too far”


Former Cardinals executive Terry McDonough has won a $3 million arbitration award from the team. The outcome flows not from the termination of his employment, but from the ridiculously over-the-top initial P.R. statement that was issued after McDonough dared to exercise his legal rights.

The arbitration award found that the Cardinals defamed McDonough, and that the false statements were made against him with actual malice.

As a result of the defamation, McDonough received $600,000 in compensation for emotional distress and $150,000 in compensation for harm to his reputation.

The arbitrator issued an award of $2.25 million in punitive damages against the Cardinals, after finding that McDonough proved “by clear and convincing evidence” that the Cardinals “consciously and deliberately, intended to cause him harm in publishing the defamatory statements.”

The Cardinals, in a statement regarding the arbitration award, have acknowledged that they made a mistake.

“We are pleased with the arbitrator’s decision dismissing all of Terry McDonough’s employment claims and finding that there was nothing improper about his dismissal from the team,” the team said. “As for Mr. McDonough’s other claim, we respect the arbitrator’s determination that our initial statement went too far. We accept responsibility for that statement and are grateful that the arbitration is now resolved.”

This implies that the Cardinals will simply cut McDonough a check, without fighting the outcome. Which is smart. The sooner they can put the unseemly behavior in response to McDonough’s claim behind them, the better. Also, it’s unlikely that the arbitrator hand picked by the NFL did anything that would be subject to attack via the courts.

Ultimately, the Cardinals should be glad that they didn’t have to answer for their conduct in a court of law, against a jury of average citizens. If an arbitration resulting from the NFL’s internal strategy for stacking the deck in the favor of the league and its teams resulted in an award of $3 million, what would a truly independent court have given McDonough?

Here’s a hint: a lot more than $3 million.





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