Shrink says sports columnist may not recover from depression

Our continuing coverage of the T.J. Simers age and disability discrimination trial . . . er . . . continues.

The psychiatrist for sports columnist T.J. Simers testified yesterday that Mr. Simers has majorCracker Jack.flickrCC.MikeMozart depressive disorder and general anxiety as a result of his demotion by the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Simers is suing the Times for age and disability discrimination in connection with his demotion. He resigned from the Times in October 2013, wrote for the Orange County Register for about another year, and then took a voluntary separation package from the OCR and is now retired. I have background details here.

Mr. Simers is expected to testify today.

Mr. Simers, who is 65 now, allegedly had weight gain and lost interest in following sports, according to the psychiatrist. "I have an apprehension he may not get back to his old self again," the psychiatrist testified.

On cross-examination, the Times attorney presented records showing that Mr. Simers had not reported any of these issues to his treating physician. The psychiatrist had reviewed Mr. Simers' medical records and met with him three times.

The attorney also pointed out that the Times had merely asked Mr. Simers to go from three columns a week to two a week, and from a "paper" column to an online column. "What would be upsetting about being asked to write one less column and being asked to write for a different audience?" Linda Miller Savitt of Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt, LLP, asked the psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist replied, "The actual physical newspaper was the medium he had come to feel he wanted to express himself, and where he had expressed himself."

Thanks to Law360 and reporter Daniel Siegal for the scoop.

My two cents: I can see how someone like Mr. Simers might be clinically depressed, but I wonder how much of that would have been caused by the Times' "illegal" actions, as opposed to other causes. Mr. Simers had a mini-stroke in March 2013, and was allegedly suffering from chronic migraine syndrome. I can easily imagine that these medical conditions might contribute to depression. Moreover, could any psychiatric issues have been either the cause or the result of Mr. Simers' well-known "acerbic" personality and the impact that it had on his life and relationships? Finally, could Mr. Simers have been depressed about the direction that the newspaper industry has taken in general? (Decreased readership, increased competition from other free sources, difficulty finding a profitable business model in the internet age, and (allegedly) editorial philosophy of not ruffling the feathers of team owners.) Remember that he's a 20-plus-year veteran who spent most of his career in better times.

As always, please feel free to contribute your two cents to our "penny jar" (the comments section)!

Image from flickr, Creative Commons license, by Mike Mozart.

Robin Shea has 30 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act). 
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