"Mrs. Pujols, isn't it true that Albert's testicles have gotten smaller over the years?" It sounds like an absurd question, but it's an example of the intrusive and ball-busting (pun intended) yet totally legitimate discovery that Jack Clark could initiate against Pujols if he filed suit.
You see, lawsuits don't transpire like they do on television. If Pujols sued Clark for money damages for defamation, they wouldn't quickly go to trial, with Clark forced to admit he has no direct proof that Pujols ever used performance enhancing drugs (which, at this point, he presumably doesn't). Rather, before any trial takes place, Clark would get to engage in a months or years-long process called discovery. Depositions, not only of Pujols, but of countless third-party witnesses. Interrogatories. Requests for production of documents. Why? It's not just because Pujols and Clark have a lot of money and their lawyers would run up a big bill (which certainly happens in high-profile cases).
When a plaintiff files suit for defamation, truth is a complete defense. If what Jack Clark said about Albert Pujols is true, i.e. Pujols did, in fact, use performance-enhancing drugs, then Clark can't be liable for defamation. From the court's perspective, that is the goal of the process - to help both sides reach a just result by uncovering the truth. That's why the discovery rules in most states are very broad - to help reach a just result. Here, the "just result" would be the answer to the question everyone in the sports world is wondering - ascertaining whether Albert Pujols has ever used PEDs.
If Jack Clark walked into my office today asking me to defend him, I'd have an absolute field day with the discovery process. Any good lawyer would. Here are just a few of the ways I'd litigate the case that would make Pujols' life miserable. This sounds unfair, but that's what any Plaintiff voluntarily endures as a byproduct of choosing to file suit:
- Obtain all of Pujols medical records from the moment he started playing baseball through the present (head size, back acne, any other PEDs symptoms or, for all we know, prescriptions).
- Take depositions of Pujols' wife ("testicles smaller?") and family members ("back acne?")
- Take depositions of Pujols' former teammates, coaches, trainers (Everything from "ever seen Pujols use PEDs?" to "Has his hat size gotten bigger?")
- Take depositions of other known PEDs users - I'm sure ARod and others would love to throw Pujols under the bus, true or not. I'm sure a depo of Jose Canseco would be fun, too.
- Obtain phone records and bank statements reflecting any phone calls or monies paid to any of the notorious PEDs dealers.
If Pujols has ever used PEDs, then, as Clark's lawyer, I'd find it eventually if I dug deep enough. That's why, if Pujols has ever been dirty, he'd be nuts to file suit against Clark. Threaten suit, as he has? Sure. But subject your wife to questions about your testicles shrinking? No, thanks. There's just no upside to filing this suit.
Even if Pujols is clean, the discovery process would be so brutal, so intrusive, and so personal that it would be hard to imagine Albert filing that lawsuit. Who wants to be subjected to all of this, even if he was clean? Oh, and all of that discovery would likely become a matter of public record, for the media to circulate as it sees fit. (There are exceptions, but typically information like this would not be filed "under seal.")
So if you're hoping Pujols will file suit, don't hold your breath - it won't happen. And even if it does, it will get dismissed or settled before we learn the truth.