Thursday, September 16, 2021

Lawsuit against Mark Dantonio to be dismissed

Curtis Blackwell's wrongful termination case will be removed from the docket

March 20, 2020

A federal judge recommended the dismissal of Curtis Blackwell's case against former Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio and other former Michigan State officials.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally J. Berens filed the recommendation and said that Blackwell's lawyers "repeatedly misused court process" to agitate defendants, according to the Detroit News.

Besides Dantonio, former MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and former Athletic Director Mark Hollis are among the defendants in a case that has been continuing since November 2018.

In the recommendation, Berens said Blackwell's attorneys used the pre-trial discovery period "not to adduce support for the narrow claim Plaintiff alleges against the MSU defendants in this case, but to harass the defendants and to build a case they have now filed in state court."

"Instead of using the discovery process to gather evidence to support the two claims alleged in this case, Plaintiff Blackwell’s attorneys have repeatedly misused court process to elicit information unrelated to his case and then have publicly filed that information, at least once in violation of a court order," Berens said in a written report.

Berens did not recommend dismissing Blackwell's wrongful arrest case against two MSU police detectives. However, the judge did say that Blackwell's lawyers, Thomas Warnicke and Drew Paterson, should be taken off the case with the possibility of further discipline for Paterson in a hearing before a U.S. district judge.

The case in question relates to Blackwell's claims of wrongful termination from MSU's football program. Serving as MSU's football recruiting coordinator from 2013 to 2017, Blackwell said he was made out to be the scapegoat at the end of his tenure following the suspension of three football players from a sexual assault investigation.

Blackwell was suspended from the program and arrested in February 2017 for allegedly obstructing an investigation into the reported sexual assault. He was never officially charged with a crime and was released in May 2017.

Dantonio said that Blackwell was removed from the staff for "philosophical" reasons.

Blackwell's lawyers recently filed yet another lawsuit in state court that accused MSU of acting on racial prejudice in his dismissal. Berens said that Blackwell's legal staff took an unusually long amount of time to develop this case, one that was originally thrown out by a federal judge in 2018.

While a federal judge has to rule on the case to wholly dismiss it, it appears that Blackwell's case will be removed from the docket for the last time.

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