Saturday, June 6, 2020

Ex-MSU football staffer's lawsuit against Dantonio, other MSU officials dropped

May 20, 2020

A lawsuit filed by former Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell against former MSU football head coach Mark Dantonio, former Athletic Director Mark Hollis and former MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon has officially been dropped by U.S. District Court Judge Janet T. Neff. 

On March 20, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally J. Berens recommended that the lawsuit be dropped due to the fact that Blackwell's lawyers "repeatedly misused court process" to agitate defendants. 

"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. 

Blackwell, in the lawsuit, alleged that his Fifth Amendment rights were violated when his contract with MSU was not renewed after he declined to speak with detectives during the Jones Day report that was investigating how the MSU football program handled 2017 sexual assault allegations in its program.

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.

Blackwell alleged that the university used him as a scapegoat, while Dantonio claimed his termination was due to philosophical differences. 

On Wednesday, Neff officially dismissed the case by approving Berens' recommendation.

While this lawsuit has been dropped, two other lawsuits remain, including a lawsuit from Blackwell alleging wrongful arrest against two MSU police detectives from his 2017 arrest.

Ongoing still is a state lawsuit that accuses Dantonio, Hollis, Simon and current MSU Athletic Director Bill Beekman of termination due to racial prejudice, wrongful termination and defamation. Blackwell is also alleging Dantonio committed NCAA violations by ordering staff members to record opposing teams’ practices and bringing Blackwell to an in-home recruiting visit, which a photo filed in a court affidavit might prove occurred.

On Feb. 4, Dantonio announced his retirement, which came just hours after Blackwell filed new allegations that Dantonio violated NCAA regulation. Despite this, Dantonio said the lawsuit had "zero" to do with his departure from MSU.

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