UPDATE (Jan. 27, 8:16 p.m.): The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas granted Penn State its change of venue request, meaning KDR Whistleblower James Vivenzio’s case against the university and others will have to be heard in either Centre or Dauphin County, according to court documents and as first reported by the Daily Collegian.
This time last year, James Vivenzio was working with State College police to help them uncover Kappa Delta Rho’s private Facebook pages that contained evidence to assault, hazing, and drug use. Now he’s working to sue the University.
Vivenzio and his attorney filed a document on January 6 to have the case against Penn State heard in Philadelphia instead of Centre County, like the University wants.
In September, Penn State filed a motion to move the case to Centre County, arguing that not only is Penn State and the corresponding chapter of KDR located in the county, but also all of the alleged crimes and hazing took place here. Additionally, Penn State noted that Vivenzio is not even from Philadelphia (he’s from Virginia), so it doesn’t makes sense to see the case in a southeastern county.
But doesn’t Penn State live everywhere? If you ask Vivenzio’s attorney, Aaron Freiwald of Philadelphia firm Freiwald Law, it does, and the marketing campaign designed to “embody the spirit of Penn Staters everywhere” is coming back to bite Old Main.
Freiwald thinks that Penn State’s advertising campaign is reason enough to allow the case to stay in Philly, noting that there is even a “large, brightly-lit” advertisement just outside the courthouse, according to the Centre Daily Times.
“Penn State cannot pick and choose when Philadelphia is or is not vexations or oppressive,” Freiwald said, in response to a line in Penn State’s complaint wherein attorney for the University James Keller said it would be “oppressive and vexatious to require the University and its witnesses to travel to and be present in Philadelphia County.”
When Penn State filed in September, Freiwald also commented to The Legal Intelligencer that he believes the case should be handled in a fashion similar to the Sandusky motions and that, given the complexity of the issue, it would be more appropriate for the case to be heard in Philadelphia.
KDR and its related Alumni Organization chapter also argued to transfer the case to Centre County in a preliminary objection filled in August.
If you’re just dropping in on the case now, here’s a quick run-down. In June, Vivenzio filed a complaint against Penn State and about a million others. Claiming that the University “dragged its feet” in investigating his case, the whistleblower is pressing charges of negligence, battery, unlawful furnishing of alcohol to a minor, furnishing liquor to one obviously intoxicated, false imprisonment, fraud, and conversion.
Penn State “strongly disputed” the allegations, arguing that the University offered Vivenzio, according to spokeswoman Lisa Powers, “extraordinary assistance on numerous occasions” at the time.
The two really haven’t really agreed on much since Vivenzio made his claims, and when it comes to location, nothing much has changed. The Vivenzio party and Penn State will reach a decision on the change of venue request on Wednesday (in Philadelphia).