On December 29, 2013, Michael Schumacher fell badly while skiing in Méribel. Since then, fans and friends have had to live with the fact that they don’t know exactly how the Formula 1 idol is really doing. The family and Schumacher’s lawyers shield the record world champion and do not let any information leak out.
Now Schumacher’s lawyer Felix Damm has said in an interview with “Legal Tribune Online” (LTO) commented on this. Damm has represented Schumacher since 2008. Damm primarily appears when it comes to protecting the privacy of the Schumacher family.
“We thought about it – but that wouldn’t have been the end of it.”
He now told the legal magazine “LTO”: “We also considered whether a final report about the state of health could be the right way (to protect private matters). But that wouldn’t have been the end of it and there would have had to be constantly updated “water level reports”. Because as those affected, you don’t have the power to order the media to put an end to it.”
The media could pick up the report again and again and ask for a new status. Damm explains what the legal problem is for his client. “If we then wanted to take action against this reporting, we would have to deal with the argument of voluntary self-disclosure.
Schumacher’s lawyer: “It was actually completely taboo until then”
Damm explains this voluntary self-disclosure to the “LTO” as follows: “No one can claim the privacy of facts that they have voluntarily disclosed to the public.” In other words: If the family provides information, they must then also do the following reporting life.
This was a problem shortly after the accident. Schumacher’s doctors gave press conferences at the time about the current status. “That was actually content that was thematically classified as private. Until then, that was actually completely taboo. And the family ran the risk of enabling follow-up reporting. But a court soon ruled: The information was so general that it did not justify speculation about Schumacher’s condition.
Schumi lawyer Damm: “I think most fans can handle it well”
Damm says: “I think that the vast majority of fans can cope well with not knowing exactly how Schumacher is doing. However, he is often surprised by media reporting. “I was amazed at how many media outlets report even though there is no reliable information; “How much you can create supposed stories from zero information,” says Damm.
He gives the example of a magazine that had the front cover headline: “He is no longer with us.” This “gave the tasteless impression that Michael Schumacher had died.” This sentence cost the magazine 100,000 euros, said Damm. “I am not aware of any case where higher monetary compensation had to be paid for the publication of a sentence.”