La Russa drops suit against Twitter Inc.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The lawsuit had claimed trademark infringement and misappropriation of the manager's name.

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa quietly has dropped his lawsuit against the social networking site Twitter Inc.

A one-paragraph statement filed June 26 with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco said La Russa had dropped all claims -- and that San Francisco-based Twitter did not compensate him in exchange. It also said he could not refile the same complaint.

Calls and e-mails to La Russa's attorney, Gregory McCoy, and to Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, were not returned Tuesday. Twitter attorney Rodger Cole said in an e-mail that he was not authorized to discuss the case.

La Russa's lawsuit, originally filed in San Francisco Superior Court in May and transferred to federal court on June 5, alleged trademark infringement, "cybersquatting" and misappropriation of his name. It claimed an unauthorized page that used his name caused emotional distress by making light of his DUI charge and the deaths of two Cardinals pitchers in recent seasons.

La Russa said June 5 that he and Twitter had reached a settlement, with Twitter agreeing to pay legal fees and make a donation to his California-based Animal Rescue Foundation.

But Twitter, in a blog posting, said there was no settlement.

Corynne McSherry, a lawyer who's been following the case for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said ending the short-lived suit was a "very sensible thing to do." The foundation consists of lawyers and activists protecting fair use and free speech on the Internet.

"The claims were weak at best, simply not allowable ... and would completely lose at the end of the day," she said. "It really should not have been brought in the first place. Wiser heads prevailed."

The impostor's Twitter account bearing La Russa's name is no longer active. The lawsuit included a screen shot of three tweets. One posted on April 19 said: "Lost 2 out of 3, but we made it out of Chicago without one drunk driving incident or dead pitcher."

Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile died of a heart condition in his Chicago hotel room in 2002. Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock died in an auto accident in April 2007, and the medical examiner measured his blood-alcohol level at 0.157 -- nearly twice the legal limit.

In March 2007, La Russa was found sleeping behind the wheel of a running sport utility vehicle during spring training with a blood-alcohol level of 0.093 percent. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.

La Russa's lawsuit said the page bearing his name was hurtful to the 64-year-old manager, who has led the Cardinals since 1996.

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