Updates on Penn State Litigation
- In Mike McQueary’s civil suit against Penn State for retaliation in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State filed a motion to stay the case pending the resolution of parallel criminal cases against three of the school’s former administrators. The judge denied the motion, reasoning that while there may be common witnesses (the administrators), there are no common issues to warrant a stay. The focus of the criminal cases, said the judge, is what the administrators knew about Sandusky’s crimes when they testified before the grand jury, not why Penn State terminated McQueary’s employment. Now Penn State has filed a motion to dismiss the suit.
- One of Sandusky’s many victims filed a civil suit in federal court alleging that his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by Penn State, its officials, one of its law firms, and several others when they failed to report Sandusky’s crimes despite knowing about them. The law firm, McQuaide Blasko, has filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that it is not a state actor because it is a private law firm and was not acting on behalf of or conspiring with the state. The motion is pending in the US District Court for the Middle District of PA.
- Two of the Penn State administrators – former VP Gary Schultz and former AD Tim Curley – charged with perjury to the grand jury and covering up Sandusky’s crimes have filed reply briefs in support of their motions to suppress their grand jury testimony. They contend that Penn State’s former general counsel Cynthia Baldwin had a conflict of interest because she represented them at the grand jury proceedings while at the same time representing the school. In her role as the school’s attorney, the criminal defendants argue, Baldwin was obligated to work to minimize the school’s civil and criminal liability, and thus could not have competently represented them as well since the parties had different interests. The defendants say Penn State’s interests were best served by cooperation but their interests would have been best served by invoking the Fifth Amendment. Baldwin, however, apparently did not advise them to take the Fifth. The defendants also claim that the state knew about the conflict of interest. All of this allegedly amounted to a deprivation of their right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment and the state’s Investigating Grand Jury Act and, so the argument goes, their testimony should therefore be suppressed. The defendants have asked that the judge hold an evidentiary hearing before issuing a ruling.
- Penn State and its insurer Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association Insurance Co. are battling over the venue of coverage lawsuits pertaining to the Sandusky scandal. The school wants the cases to proceed in Centre County where the main campus is located, and the insurance company wants to proceed in Philadelphia where the underlying suit was filed. The Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas ruled that the coverage litigation should stay in Philadelphia. Penn State appealed and at the recent oral argument, the appeals panel was reportedly peppering Penn State with questions that indicated the panel believes Philadelphia is the proper venue.
- The post-trial evidentiary hearing in Sandusky’s criminal case went forward. Sandusky is seeking to overturn the verdict or obtain a new trial on the grounds that the judge brought the case to trial too quickly, before his defense attorneys had time to review all of the evidence. Sandusky’s trial attorney Joe Amendola took the stand and testified that he was not able to analyze all 12,000 pages of documents he received before trial. However, Amendola also testified that he has since reviewed the documents and nothing in them would have altered his defense strategy. The judge has not yet ruled but it seems like Sandusky should lose this one given Amendola’s testimony.
- The NCAA fined Penn State $60 million in the wake of the Sandusky scandal and created the Child Sexual Abuse Endowment Task Force to help determine where the money will be spent. A Pennsylvania state senator has sued the NCAA to prevent it from spending the money on programs not directly connected to the state. Separately, not part of lawsuit negotiations, the NCAA said it will not spend the money until a third party administrator is appointed and until the funds are held in an account not controlled by the NCAA. Additionally, the NCAA said it will not see the money or decide where it will be spent. In the lawsuit, the senator and the NCAA recently reached an agreement whereby Penn State’s first fine payment of $12 million will not be spent without providing the senator with 60 days notice.