Pennsylvania State University asked a court to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Mike McQueary, the former assistant football coach who claims he was fired for cooperating in the sex-abuse investigation of Jerry Sandusky.
The lawsuit lacks specificity and the claims are legally deficient, the university said in a court filing made public today. Penn State last month lost a bid to delay the case until criminal charges tied to the sex-abuse are resolved.
McQueary’s allegations against the school and some of its former officials also “do not amount to the type of outrageous conduct that is required to support a punitive-damages claim,” which the ex-coach made, lawyers for Penn State said in papers filed in state court in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
McQueary was a key witness for the prosecution in a June trial against Sandusky. His testimony is at the heart of a related case against three ex-Penn State officials: President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz and Athletic Director Tim Curley.
Sandusky, who spent 31 seasons as a defensive assistant football coach under Joe Paterno, was sentenced in October to at least 30 years in prison for sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.
McQueary testified he saw Sandusky abusing a boy in a football locker room shower in February 2001 and reported the incident to Paterno, Curley and Schultz.
McQueary, who was placed on administrative leave in November 2011 and terminated in July, alleged in his lawsuit that he was ostracized and defamed by school officials. He’s seeking $4 million in lost future earnings plus unspecified damages for legal fees and the distress, anguish and humiliation caused by his role in the Sandusky case.
Penn State argued in its filing that McQueary cannot prove he was defamed because it would require taking out of context comments made by Spanier in the days soon after Sandusky was charged.
McQueary’s whistle-blower claim alleging the school mistreated him because of his cooperation with investigators also lacks specificity as to whether it asserts a wrongful- discharge claim, the university said. Penn State employed McQueary as a “fixed term contract employee” with a term expiring on June 30, 2012. Wrongful-discharge actions don’t extend to employees protected by contract or statute, the university said in its filing.
The case is McQueary v. Pennsylvania State University, 2012-1804, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, Centre County (Bellefonte).
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