Lawyer parent “turns on legal heat” after being asked to leave Little League game

by Ted Frank on July 13, 2007

The signs at the New Tampa Little League field are clear: Please practice good sportsmanship at all times.

League officials say one parent has missed the message, and they’ve asked him to leave the park more than once.

But that parent also happens to be a lawyer for one of the largest law firms in Florida. Now he’s alleging that the New Tampa Little League defamed his character in front of parents, friends and clients, and he has hinted strongly at legal action.

Fred Grady, 47, a construction lawyer for Holland & Knight in Tampa, sent league president Monica Wooden a letter on Holland & Knight stationery. The letter, dated June 11, says the league officers’ actions and accusations damaged him. Pursuant to state law, the letter gives Wooden 30 days to send him a copy of the league’s insurance policies and coverage.

That letter capped off a series of e-mail exchanges between Grady and Wooden in which Grady repeatedly asked for a letter of apology from Linda Harrell, a league director who ordered him off the field on April 28. Grady wanted the letter sent to all parents, players and coaches on his son’s team, and he wanted it in time for the end-of-the-season party so he could read it aloud, Wooden said.

“I’m all about principle,” Wooden said. “But I’m not going to patronize some guy who needs something for his self-gratification.”

When Grady didn’t get the letter, he sent Wooden the e-mails.

“If NTLL decides or has decided the Director acted outside of her scope of authority then so be it but that issue will NOT be determined by me, but rather by a judge or jury if this matter proceeds,” said one e-mail bearing Grady’s name.

Another read: “If the NTLL is not prepared to resolve the matter along these lines then I will have no other choice but to take legal action against NTLL and Ms. Harrell individually.”

Grady requested the name of the league’s lawyer: “I assume NTLL does not have LOCAL counsel? Perhaps NTLL should consider retaining a local attorney.”

The firm says the use of letterhead was appropriate because the firm had been engaged. (Dong-Phuong Nguyen, “Makings of a major-league fuss”, St. Petersburg Times, Jul. 7 (via Kirkendall)). Recent litigious parents: May 21; May 3; April 2006; Dec. 2005; Sep. 2005; Jun. 2005; Feb. 2005; Mar. 2004.

{ 5 comments }

1 jb 07.13.07 at 8:19 am

The Streisand Effect also works offline. Sending this letter to all parents will cause them to think worse of him than anything else he has done to date.

2 AMcA 07.13.07 at 10:23 am

Well, Holland ‘n’ Knight is sure going to burinish its repuation by taking up this worthy cause.

Let’s hope this one takes on a life like the pants suit. I bet H&K will quickly discover that it has a conflict in this representation.

3 Ron Coleman 07.13.07 at 2:11 pm

Construction lawyer?

This doesn’t sound very constructive.

4 smurfy 07.13.07 at 8:09 pm

While his legal actions off the field are definately bullyish, the actual event that triggered his ejection sounds pretty harmless.

He bonked his son on the head with an empty water bottle, because the kid was misbehaving. Unless he swung pretty hard that sounds fair. It seems both parties are over reacting.

5 lrb 07.14.07 at 11:28 pm

I know Fred — he’s a decent fellow. This is what happens when you get some dumb lady who’s never played a sport in her life on the board of a little league who sees an innocuous act — doesn’t understand it — feels the need to make herself important — yaps her mouth — and makes a big deal out of nothing. Truth, Fred should have let it go, but give me a break. Have any of ya’ll ever coached or played a sport? That is nothing!

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