McQueary Ends Whistleblower Suit Against Penn State
by Geoff Rushton
Mike McQueary on Friday brought an end to his lawsuit against Penn State, a year after a jury and judge found in his favor on claims of defamation, misrepresentation and violation of the whistleblower statute.
Attorney William T. Fleming filed on behalf of McQueary to discontinue and end the matter with prejudice, meaning the case is permanently closed.
Terms of any settlement have not been disclosed. A Penn State spokesperson had not replied to a request for comment on Monday morning and McQueary’s attorney could not be reached. Since last year, the university has been seeking to overturn the verdicts that awarded McQueary more than $12 million.
McQueary filed the suit over how administrators handled his 2001 report of seeing Jerry Sandusky in a locker room shower with a boy and how he was treated by the school after it was revealed he had testified before the grand jury that recommended charges against Sandusky.
After a nine-day trial in October 2016, a jury awarded McQueary $1.15 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages on his claim that former Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz misrepresented how they would handle his report of seeing Jerry Sandusky in a locker room shower with a boy. Curley and Schultz were initially charged with perjury and other counts for their testimony to a grand jury. Most charges against them were dropped and they ultimately pleaded guilty earlier this year to misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
McQueary also was awarded $1.15 million in compensatory damages for defamation. He claimed that former Penn State President Graham Spanier’s statement of support for Curley and Schultz, which expressed confidence the charges against them would be found to be “groundless,” implied it was McQueary, not the administrators, who lied to the grand jury.
About a month after the jury rendered its verdict, specially-presiding Judge Thomas Gavin ruled in McQueary’s favor on the whistleblower claim. He awarded McQueary $3.97 million in past and future economic losses and $1 million in non-economic losses for harm to his reputation and humiliation. Penn State also was ordered to pay legal fees and the bonus he would have received for coaching in the 2012 Ticket City Bowl.
McQueary’s suit claimed Penn State retaliated against him for cooperating with prosecutors in the investigation of Sandusky, who was convicted in 20. McQueary was placed on paid administrative leave in November 2011 after it was revealed he was the witness who testified to a grand jury about having seen Sandusky abusing a boy in a locker room shower. His contract was not renewed the following spring and he claimed Penn State’s actions made it impossible for him to find work afterwards.
The university sought to have the decisions overturned and a new trial ordered. Attorneys for Penn State argued that the damages awarded were excessive and that the jury incorrectly awarded double damages and unsupported emotional damages.
Penn State also claimed that that Gavin prejudiced the university when he instructed jurors that Curley, Schultz and Spanier were, as a matter of law, mandated reporters of suspected child abuse. Attorneys further argued that the intentional misrepresentation claim did not meet legal requirements and that McQueary’s own actions, not those of the university, harmed his reputation.