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Paterno Estate, NCAA Move Toward Summary Judgment In Lawsuit

By Geoff Rushton

The Paterno estate’s lawsuit against the NCAA may be resolved without going to trial.

In an order dated June 9, specially-presiding Senior Judge John Leete of Potter County granted a joint request by the Paternos and the NCAA to file under seal motions for summary judgment and response and reply briefs.

Attorneys for both parties filed a joint motion on June 7 asking the court to file under seal “forthcoming dispositive motions” — meaning they would ask the court to decide the case — as well as supporting, responsive and reply briefs for those motions.

“The parties anticipate that the motions, responses, replies and supporting briefs will contain portions that have been designated ‘Confidential’ or ‘Highly Confidential'” under a protective order issued by Leete in 2014, Paterno attorney Thomas Weber and NCAA attorney Thomas Scott wrote.

They will file redacted public versions at the same time as the sealed documents.

Along with granting the joint motion, Leet ordered an amended schedule. Dispositive motions and supporting briefs will be filed by June 30, responsive briefs by Aug. 7 and reply briefs by Aug. 28.

The Paterno estate, along with former assistant coaches Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney, are suing the NCAA, its president Mark Emmert and former executive committee chair Ed Ray in Centre County Court.

The lawsuit, filed in 2013, claims commercial disparagement, defamation, tortious interference and conspiracy, citing the use of the Louis Freeh report commissioned by Penn State in the NCAA’s consent decree for sanctions with Penn State related to the school’s handling of reports of child sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky. The consent decree was replaced and most sanctions repealed or ended early. The plaintiffs say the report and sanctions resulted in damage to commercial interests and values and harmed the former assistant coaches’ ability to find similar work.

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