Michael Irvin Case: What We Know About His $100M Defamation Lawsuit For Alleged Misconduct

The former Dallas wide receiver is trying to clear his name after a hotel accused him of harassing a female employee.

Former NFL wide receiver Michael Irvin is fighting to repair his reputation after a Phoenix hotel accused him of having an inappropriate interaction with a female employee.

On Feb. 5, the retired Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and football commentator was on assignment for NFL Network to cover Super Bowl LVII week. He had, by all accounts, a brief verbal encounter with the female employee in the lobby of the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel, linked with Marriott International.

According to Irvin, hotel security later went to his room, woke him up, and removed the Hall of Famer from the hotel without an explanation. After that, the NFL Network dropped Irvin from its Super Bowl coverage, telling The Washington Post that his future status with the network was unclear. ESPN, where Irvin makes frequent television appearances, also canceled his participation on its First Take sports debate show.

On Feb. 9, Irvin filed a defamation lawsuit alleging that the Phoenix hotel and the female employee wrongly accused him of misconduct.

Here’s what we know about the case, which is playing out in state and federal courtrooms.

Irvin’s lawsuit

Irvin’s attorney, Levi McCathern, filed the lawsuit Feb. 9 in Collin County, Texas court, seeking more than $100 million in damages, The Dallas Morning Star reported. The suit claims that Marriott and the unnamed female employee, listed as “Jane Doe,” defamed him and wrongly interfered in his business relationship with NFL Network, resulting in him getting “canceled.”

"It is clear Michael is the latest victim of our cancel culture where all it takes is an accusation to ruin a person’s life. Michael looks forward to clearing his name in court and hopes the court of public opinion will see the truth come out as well," McCathern told USA TODAY Sports.

Michael Irvin Files Defamation Lawsuit Seeking $100M After Hotel Chain, Employee Accuse Him Of Misconduct

Inappropriate behavior?

The exact nature of the accusation against Irvin is unknown. He has complained in court documents and in the media that the hotel has declined to reveal why he was thrown out of the hotel and banned from Marriott properties.

According to the lawsuit, Irvin said he met the woman when she introduced herself in the hotel lobby. He stated that witnesses of the encounter have described the interaction as harmless.

Irvin told Dallas radio station KRLD and The News that he had a brief conversation with her that lasted between 45 seconds and one minute, but “there was no sexual wrongdoing.

“We shook hands. Then I left. … That’s all I know,” Irvin recalled, adding that he didn’t remember the meeting at first because “I had a few drinks, to tell you the truth.” Irvin said he went to his hotel room alone and slept.

Criminal charges were not filed with the police, according to multiple media sources.

What’s on the surveillance video?

On Feb. 17, the state judge overseeing the case issued a Feb. 20 deadline for Marriott to submit its video evidence of the incident. He also ordered the hotel to name Irvin’s accuser, anyone else who filed a complaint against him, and the names of NFL employees who received the complaints. But instead of complying with the order, Marriott filed a 10-page objection.

“I’m mad as hell that they’re hiding this stuff that is so relevant to my client’s livelihood. I think it is terrible they’re doing that. I don’t know what’s on the video. None of us have gotten to see it. But I sure think that, at a minimum, Michael has got a right to see the video,” McCathern told The News.

On Feb. 24, a federal judge, in a separate order from the state court, gave Marriott until Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. to respond to Irvin’s request to turn over the surveillance video and other information at the center of the case. Again, instead of submitting the material, Marriott filed an objection.

Michael Irvin’s Lawyer ‘Mad As Hell’ That Marriott Refuses To Provide Video

Marriott’s position

The hotel chain filed a motion Feb. 27 to dismiss Irvin’s lawsuit, NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk reported. Marriott claims that it doesn’t own the Phoenix hotel where the alleged wrongdoing happened.

According to Marriot, it operates, franchises, or licenses nearly 8,300 properties worldwide but only owns 21 of those properties.

Marriott’s response also offered a vague clue about the alleged wrongdoing, saying that Irvin made “harassing and inappropriate comments” to the female employee.

If the judge declines to dismiss the lawsuit, Marriott’s motion asks the court to move the case to federal district court in Arizona “for the convenience of the parties and witnesses,” The News reported.

Musical courtrooms: state and federal filings

Irvin filed his lawsuit in Texas state court, but Marriott filed documents to move the case to federal court in Texas. In attempting to move the case from a state court, where Irvin is popular from his years of playing for the Cowboys, Marriott appears to seek an advantage in federal court that would likely favor its interests, according Pro Football Talk.

If the case goes to trial, a switch to federal court in Arizona would move it further away from Irvin’s fan base.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.