TAMPA, Fla. — Dwight Gooden and Tampa General Hospital have ended their legal dispute stemming from a blood test that showed the New York Mets pitcher was drunk in 1986 when he fought with police.
The hospital acknowledged it should not have given police the test results and gave Gooden $7,500 to drop his negligence suit. He gave it back to help care for about 100 emotionally disturbed children and promised to send along a few autographed baseballs.
"I don't think it's any secret that Dwight is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world," said Charles Ehrlich, one of Gooden's attorneys. "Money was no issue in this case."
The lawsuit blamed Tampa General for hurting Gooden's reputation and ruining endorsement contracts when the test results became public.
Michael N. Brown, an attorney for the Hillsborough County Hospital Authority, said Thursday that hospitals can give police the results of a blood test only under court order or if a person is charged with drunk driving, and Gooden was not.
"It was a mistake," Brown said. "We should have waited until we had a subpoena from the police."
Gooden was arrested in December, 1986, after an officer saw his Mercedes-Benz weaving. Gooden and the officer exchanged words and shoves, triggering a melee that involved nine officers, Gooden and four of his friends.
Police charged Gooden with resisting arrest and battery on a police officer. He pleaded no contest and served 22 months' probation.
Three officers later filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, accusing Gooden of battery and defamation. The pitcher then sued the officers, the city of Tampa and Tampa General. Gooden settled his disputes with the officers and the city last month.