Penn State

Penn State says Paterno attorneys make 'bald misstatements'

Penn State fired the latest volley in the ongoing legal battle with the estate of former football coach Joe Paterno.

On Thursday, attorneys for the university filed a brief in opposition to the estate’s motion to enforce a subpoena for law firm Pepper Hamilton.

The Paternos, plus former Nittany Lion assistant coaches Bill Kenney and Jay Paterno and former trustee Al Clemens, are suing the university and the NCAA, President Mark Emmert and former executive committee chairman Ed Ray for breach of contract. The NCAA is also accused of defamation, disparagement, tortious interference and conspiracy.

Pepper Hamilton merged with Louis Freeh’s firm shortly after the release of his Penn State-commissioned investigation. Pepper Hamilton and the university have both been resisting the plaintiffs’ attempts to subpoena documents from the firm.

University attorney Daniel Booker of the law firm Reed Smith wrote that the latest filing was submitted to “correct bald misstatements” the estate’s attorneys made in their last response. They took particular offense to terms like “brazenly continuing to violate its discovery obligations” and “direct affront” to the court’s authority, calling the allegations “palpably false.”

“In particular, neither Pepper Hamilton nor Penn State have been ordered to produce documents for which they assert one or more privileges,” Booker wrote.

Both the university and the law firm claim many requested documents are actually protected by attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine. Booker wrote that, “vitriolic accusations notwithstanding,” all of their claims have been genuine.