Updated: Aug 11
On August 6, 2021, the Chicago White Sox were named defendants in a lawsuit filed by a former batboy of their minor league affiliate, the Birmingham Barons. The named defendants in the case are Omar Vizquel, the Birmingham Barons, the Chicago White Sox, and Chisox Corp. The Barons filed their answer to the complaint on Tuesday, August 31. The Chicago White Sox did the same on Friday, September 3. Conduct Detrimental obtained a copy of the team's response.
For some background on the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that Omar Vizquel, then manager of the Double-A Birmingham Barons, engaged in a pattern of sexual abuse and harassment towards him. Specifically, as alleged, Vizquel would intentionally expose himself and force the batboy to wash his back. Notably, this lawsuit calls for a holding of disability discrimination in violation of Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plaintiff says he has autism.
The Chicago White Sox deny that they are proper defendants for any claim, deny they have violated the cited statutes, deny any liability to Plaintiff, and deny that Plaintiff is entitled to the requested relief. As in most answers, the White Sox legal team parses through the complaint paragraph by paragraph, either admitting to, denying, or claiming to have insufficient knowledge of the alleged assertions in said paragraph.
For example, as the plaintiff often tries to merge the White Sox and Barons as one entity, the major league team continuously distances itself from the minor league team (and its officers) in the answer. "These Defendants admit that the Barons are the AA affiliate of the White Sox, that the White Sox employ the coaching staff and players, and that the White Sox employed Vizquel. These Defendants deny that they share centralized control of labor relations, have common management, or enjoy common financial control with the Barons."
In the complaint, the plaintiff alleged that Vizquel would intentionally expose his erect penis in the presence and direction of plaintiff. The Chicago White Sox, who respond to most allegations with "These Defendants are without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations" vehemently deny this one.
"Upon information and belief, these defendants admit that Vizquel did NOT expose his erect penis to any bat boys." This is a direct denial of the plaintiff's claim. However, the team does not deny that Vizquel told plaintiff to wash his back. In fact, they admit it happened, rather than claiming to be naïve to the allegation's validity.
The Birmingham Barons argued on Tuesday that the plaintiff can't sue the team over alleged sexual harassment by Vizquel because the ex-employee never officially reported the incident. The Chicago White Sox deny the incident ever happened.
As a response to the ADA claim, the White Sox claim that they were never the plaintiff's employer. Rather, they say he was employed by the Birmingham Barons, a separate entity. "These Defendants and the Barons are not a single employer or integrated enterprise"
As this case is being heard by an Alabama federal judge, the White Sox hired Birmingham, Alabama law firm Scott, Dukes, and Geisler to file their answer.
Jason Morrin is a third-year law student at Hofstra Law School in New York. He is the President of Hofstra’s Sports and Entertainment Law Society. Additionally, he is a Law Clerk at Geragos & Geragos. He can be found on Twitter @Jmorr1.