The Work

January 4, 2011 3:16 PM

Seyfarth Shaw, Troutman Sanders Involved in Brett Favre Sexual Harassment Suit

Posted by Brian Baxter

Lawyers from Seyfarth Shaw and Troutman Sanders are representing the New York Jets and former quarterback Brett Favre, respectively, in a sexual harassment suit brought by two former team masseuses.

In a suit filed in state court in New York on Monday, former Jets employees Christine Scavo and Shannon O'Toole accuse Favre and the team of costing them their part-time jobs after the two complained about suggestive text messages allegedly sent by the star quarterback in 2008.

Favre The charges come nearly three months after published a story reporting on offending messages allegedly sent by Favre to another ex-Jets employee, Jenn Sterger, a currently unemployed television personality who worked for the team in 2008. After the Deadspin story broke, the National Football League launched an investigation of its own into the matter, and Scavo and O'Toole came forward with their own allegations.

Last week the NFL said there wasn't enough evidence to prove that the quarterback had sent inappropriate messages to Sterger, though it did fine Favre $50,000 for failing to cooperate with the inquiry.

Sterger's lawyer, Joseph Conway of Long Island's LaRusso & Conway, criticized the league's punishment as inadequate. He told the New York Post that the NFL's decision not to pursue the matter raised even more questions, and he hinted at the possibility of a civil suit. For now, Sterger has not brought any formal actions against either the team or Favre.

As we reported in November, Seyfarth Shaw was brought on to help the team deal with the unfolding scandal. Seyfarth partner Gary Glaser told us then that he had a "business relationship" with the Jets stemming from work he had done with the team's general counsel, Hymie Elhai, and former team lawyer Andrew Lee. Glaser declined to comment on the sexual harassment case when contacted by phone on Tuesday. Instead, he pointed us to a statement he issued on behalf of the team, referring to the the suit filed by Scavo and O'Toole as "completely without merit."

The two women are being represented by David Jaroslawicz of New York's Jaroslawicz & Jaros. According to the complaint, both claim they both worked part-time at the Jets' annual training camp for years until 2008, when Favre began sending solicitous text messages to Scavo and another unidentified colleague.

After Scavo's husband told Favre to back off, his wife complained to the Jets. Soon after, the complaint says, the team stopped calling on Scavo and O'Toole for work. When reports about Favre's alleged off-field indiscretions began surfacing late last year, the complaint alleges that the coordinator of the team's massage program, also named as a defendant in the suit, told Scavo and O'Toole to stop talking to the press, or they would never work for the Jets again. (Click here for a copy of the civil complaint, courtesy of Deadspin.)

Jaroslawicz, no stranger to high-profile legal disputes, believes this suit will stay in state court. His clients' primary objective, he says, is to "just get their jobs back." Scavo and O'Toole are seeking unspecified damages; Jaroslawicz says a "judge or jury will deem appropriate" what they should receive.

Troutman Sanders labor and employment practice leader Richard Gerakitis has been representing Favre in the NFL's investigation into the Sterger matter. Gerakitis did not immediately respond to a request for comment when contacted early Tuesday. In an interview last month with's Mike Florio, Gerakitis lashed out against Sterger's camp for manipulating the media and urged them to sue instead. (PFT reported that Gerakitis had been working with Favre's agent, James "Bus" Cook, Jr., since September.)

Favre announced his retirement on Sunday--the third time he's done so in as many years--after playing in the NFL for 20 seasons.


Photo: Wikimedia Commons -1st Class Jennifer A. Villalovos, USN

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