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Cardinals' La Russa squawks over tweets

Thursday, June 4, 2009 | 10:10 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is suing the social-networking site Twitter, claiming an unauthorized page that used his name to make light of drunken driving and two Cardinals pitchers who died damaged his reputation and caused emotional distress.

The suit filed last month in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco seeks unspecified damages.

Messages left Thursday with La Russa's attorney and San Francisco-based Twitter were not returned.

The lawsuit claims that someone created a false account under La Russa's name and posted updates, known as "tweets," that gave the false impression that the comments came from La Russa. The suit said the comments were "derogatory and demeaning" and damaged La Russa's trademark rights.

The account bearing La Russa's name is no longer active. The lawsuit includes 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 of 0.157 — nearly twice the legal limit.

One month earlier, La Russa was found sleeping behind the wheel of a running sport utility vehicle in 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 and also managed the Chicago White Sox and Oakland A's during a 30-year managerial career.

The lawsuit includes a screenshot of tweets with the heading "Hey there! Tony La Russa is using Twitter," with a picture of the manager. The same page includes an aside that reads, "Bio Parodies are fun for everyone."

Some professional athletes and others connected to pro sports have embraced Twitter. Shaquille O'Neal posted a message on his Twitter.com site saying he was pulling for former teammate Kobe Bryant to win a fourth championship as the Lakers entered the NBA finals against Orlando.

"I am saying it today and today only," O'Neal tweeted. "I want kobe bryant to get number four, spread da word."

Buffalo Bills receiver Terrell Owens posted a message on his Twitter site Tuesday that his search for a home to rent hit a snag because residents "(don't) want any drama n their neighborhood!! LOL!!! Wow!!."

 


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