Categorized | Legal News

Judge Allows Part of Paterno Family Suit Against NCAA to Proceed


The AP (1/7, Scolforo) reports, Pennsylvania State University “has to become involved in a lawsuit filed by Joe Paterno’s family and others against the NCAA in order for parts of it to proceed, a state judge ruled Tuesday.” Judge John Leete, in a 25-page decision, ruled that “breach of contract claims.. cannot continue without Penn State’s participation because the school is an ‘indispensable party.’” A spokesperson for the university did not comment, although NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement: “We are exceedingly pleased that the court rejected the plaintiffs’ effort to undo the consent decree. … As this was the last remaining legal challenge to the validity of the consent decree, we hope the court’s decision finally brings closure to this issue and allows the Penn State community to continue to move forward under the consent decree and the athletic integrity agreement.” While Leete “threw out a claim of interference with contractual relations,” he “kept in place civil conspiracy and commercial disparagement elements.”

Bloomberg News (1/7, Pearson, 1.91M) adds that while Leete said the family of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno “couldn’t pursue breach-of-contract claims over the sanctions or seek to void them without the university’s permission,” they “can pursue defamation and conspiracy claims.” Wick Sollers, an attorney for the Paternos, called the decision a “significant victory.”

The State College (PA) Centre Daily Times (1/7, Dawson, 98K) states, “The Paterno family and Penn State supporters scored a win over the NCAA on Tuesday, as some of their claims survived the first round of the legal battle and can proceed to the discovery phase.” According to the article, the judge’s ruling gives the “green light to claims of defamation, civil conspiracy and commercial disparagement.” Leete also dismissed claims that NCAA sanctions “harmed two former coaches’ attempts to find work,” although he “said the claims can be refilled.” The ruling will allow the plaintiffs and NCAA to proceed with discovery.

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