Former Penn State fencing coach Kaidanov scores points, takes hits in lawsuit

A federal judge has upheld some of former Penn State fencing coach Emmanuil Kaidanov’s claims in his challenge to the university’s 2013 termination of his employment.

In a Dec. 23 memorandum from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Judge Gene E.K. Pratter allowed Kaidanov’s case to continue on two points.

Kaidanov’s claims of violation of due process and breach of contract against Penn State will proceed. Pratter dismissed the same claims against former athletic director David Joyner and athletics integrity officer Julie Del Giorno.

Pratter also halted claims regarding tortious interference against Joyner and Del Giorno, and “liberty interest in his reputation” and false light against all defendants.

The claims stem from Kaidanov’s dismissal following an unfounded and later disproven claim of drug possession against a female member of the fencing team. Kaidanov “expressed his disappointment” to the staff member who anonymously reported the potential problem, and five months later, was called in front of Del Giorno to discuss the situation. On Aug. 20, 2013, Joyner called Kaidanov to a meeting where he said he had “lost confidence” in the coach and accused him of retaliating against the staff member who made the report.

Kaidanov denied any retaliation and the university stated the cause for the dismissal as simply “personnel reasons.”

Kaidanov claimed in court documents that, in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, the limited information led to “rampant and unfounded speculation” about the reasons. Pratter, however, said that nothing negative could be concluded from that statement “without an enormous and unwarranted lunge into the realm of speculation.”