Penn State

Former trustee Alvin Clemens withdraws from Paterno estate lawsuit

Jay Paterno
Jay Paterno CDT photo

Another plaintiff has dropped from the lawsuit pitting the Paterno estate against the NCAA and Penn State.

Former university trustee Al Clemens voluntarily withdrew as a plaintiff on Monday, following a list of points raised by the NCAA in a new matter filed in April.

In documents filed Tuesday, the remaining plaintiffs, the estate and former assistant coaches Bill Kenney and Jay Paterno, filed a response to that new matter.

Among the NCAA’s assertions were that the charges of tortious interference, disparagement, defamation and conspiracy should be dismissed because the statements alleged to be defamatory or disparaging were “true or substantially true.”

The plaintiffs disagreed, saying they “specifically denied” that claim.

The plaintiffs take issue with the university-commissioned Freeh report and its conclusions, which placed blame at the feet of late longtime coach Joe Paterno, former president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz.

Kenney and Paterno also filed responses Monday in their federal case against the university.

The coaches insisted that the “stigma plus” qualification to allow their case to proceed, a point protested by the university, was met with a “substantive connection” of the events of the university’s response after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and their termination in 2012.

“In this case, the world watched the events unfold, from Joe Paterno’s firing, to the new coach hiring, to the termination of the (p)laintiffs, to the ongoing Freeh (i)nvestigation, to the publication of the Freeh (r)eport and then finally the issuance of the (c)onsent (d)ecree,” wrote the coaches’ attorneys.

At the heart, they said, was Penn State’s hiring of Louis Freeh and his firm to “conduct a very public investigation that kept these issues of the Sandusky (a)ffair in the news from the time period of Paterno’s firing until the issuance of the (c)onsent (d)ecree,” the agreement between the university and the NCAA that allowed for unprecedented punishment.

They requested that the court deny Penn State’s motion to dismiss their complaint.