Brett Favre filed defamation lawsuits against Pat McAfee, Fox Sports’ Shannon Sharpe, and Mississippi state auditor Shad White in February over comments they each made regarding the former NFL quarterback’s alleged involvement in a welfare scandal that saw millions of dollars meant for the state’s poorest citizens redirected to Favre as well as his alma mater, the University of Sothern Mississippi, for the construction of a volleyball complex.
McAfee has been the most vocal of that trio in terms of discussing the details of the lawsuit and how it has evolved. Now he’s making some legal moves on his own.
As first reported by Daniel Wallach, McAfee has moved the case from Mississippi state court to federal court.
BREAKING: Pat McAfee removes Brett Favre defamation lawsuit to federal court. Notice of Removal cites Favre’s lawyer’s statement that the case is worth “millions of dollars” and could “bankrupt” @PatMcAfeeShow in order to show that the $75,000 “amount in controversy” requirement… pic.twitter.com/NN9gDtfppj
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) March 25, 2023
Favre had initially filed the case in Lamar County, Mississippi, where he lives. By moving the case to federal court, McAfee presumably avoids a scenario where he might receive unfavorable treatment from a court located where the Green Bay Packers legend calls home.
“Moving the case from state court to federal court will enhance McAfee’s prospects for success, as federal judges more readily grant defendant summary judgment motions than their state court counterparts. Favre’s claims are less likely to get to trial in federal court,” wrote Wallach.
Wallach also noted that the lawsuit has now been assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett, who is also presiding over Favre’s defamation lawsuit against Sharpe.
The expectation now is that the former Indianapolis Colts punter’s legal team will file a motion for an enlargement of time and seek additional time to respond to the suit. At that point, they’ll presumably file a motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment.
Many legal experts have noted that Favre’s burden of proof that McAfee’s comments tarnished his reputation is pretty high as a public figure. They also note that the lawsuit could have the opportunity to investigate details surrounding his potential involvement in the Mississippi state welfare scandal, making things even worse for himself.
Favre has denied any knowledge that he was aware of the welfare money’s intended purpose. Mississippi Today’s reporting has included text messages from him as well as then-Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant that seem to paint a different picture.
Meanwhile, Favre’s lawyer, Eric Herschmann, has had some sharp words for McAfee in particular.
“Well, I guarantee you the jury in Mississippi will make certain he learns how to apologize,” Herschmann said recently. “It’s going to cost Pat McAfee millions of dollars, and if it bankrupts him then he will have learned his lesson.”