CHARLES TOWN - A new state law has forced an attorney with a suit against a state university to dismiss the suit and refile it.
Attorney Harry Waddell, attorney for former Shepherd softball coach David Trail, has refiled the case against the university, in which Trail claims he was discriminated against and was forced to resign amid sexual harassment allegations.
Waddell said a new state law requires notice to be given to the attorney general's office and the legislature when a suit is being filed against a state agency, 30 days prior to filing the suit. The state officials must be given notice of the claim and the damages being sought.
Trail is suing Shepherd University after the school forced him to resign. He claims the school failed to follow procedures set forth in their sexual harassment policy, which promises an informal and formal process for the resolution of sexual harassment complaints.
Waddell said the case had to be refiled because if not, it could go all the way to trial and be thrown out because of jurisdictional requirements.
According to the suit, the athletic department received an anonymous complaint, from "the entire Shepherd University softball team," containing allegations of sexual harassment from Trail.
According to the Martinsburg Journal, the complaint said Trail made players feel uncomfortable after he allegedly massaged their backs and took pictures of them in their swimsuits on a team trip to the beach.
Karl Wolf, the school's athletic director, is also named as a defendant.
According to the suit, on May 18, 2007, Wolf was informed by Matt Poling of the Journal , where he was informed that several members of the team had met with Poling and provided him with the allegations of sexual harassment.
Trail said that after Wolf spoke with Poling, he received a call from Wolf, informing him "it was probably time to part ways" and "their backs were against the wall," the suit says.
The next day, Wolf, assistant athletic director Joan Pope and Alan Perdue, Shepherd's legal counsel, met with Trail at his home. According to the suit, Trail was told he was not being fired or forced to resign, but his contract would not be renewed. On Monday, May 21, 2007, the school released a statement that announced Trail was retiring.
Trail's contract was not renewed and a female coach replaced him.
In the two-count suit, Trail claims he was defamed and discriminated against. He seeks compensation for the humiliation, loss of personal dignity, mental and emotional stress, lost wages and loss of future anticipated earnings.
Trail also seeks general damages, back pay, loss of future earnings, punitive damages and court costs.
Jefferson Circuit Court case number 07-C-383