Rodriguez uses to show lawsuit leak

By Steve Korris | Mar 26, 2008


MORGANTOWN – Former West Virginia University football coach Rich Rodriguez leans on Internet gossip to support his claim that the university leaked news of a lawsuit against him before serving the suit on him.

In a March 17 answer to a question from the university about news leaks, Rodriguez's attorneys quoted a Jan. 18 report on that, "The school slapped the guy with a four million dollar lawsuit and made sure ESPN knew about it before he did."

The coach's attorneys also claimed that the Charleston Daily Mail posted a copy of the suit that did not bear a court file stamp.

The Daily Mail's copy "was obviously provided to the press by representatives of plaintiffs prior to filing with the court," they wrote.

They did not identify the university representatives who released the copies, however, so attorneys for the university have moved to compel him to identify them.

This dispute and many others will land in the lap of Monongalia Circuit Judge Robert Stone at a hearing Thursday, April 3.

Stone will hear motions the university filed March 10 and March 26, seeking to compel answers to questions that Rodriguez has not answered to their satisfaction.

Stone presides over a petition the university filed for declaratory judgment, seeking to enforce a $4 million buyout in Rodriguez's contract.

Rodriguez resigned Dec. 19 to coach the University of Michigan. The university sued him Dec. 27.

Rodriguez's attorney, Sean McGinley, responded with a counterclaim seeking to declare the buyout unenforceable.

McGinley alleges that university officials broke oral promises they had made in August, when Rodriguez signed a new contract.

The university's March 10 motion called on Rodriguez to state the date, place and participants of his meetings with Michigan representatives.

The motion also sought to compel production of documents from those meetings.

The March 26 motion covered a broad range of questions the university asked on Feb. 13 and Rodriguez answered March 17.

University attorney Jeffrey Wakefield of Charleston wrote in the March 26 motion that Rodriguez added new information in a March 24 letter.

Wakefield offered to withdraw portions of the motion if Rodriguez amends his responses to reflect the contents of the March 24 letter.

Wakefield persisted in seeking the names of athletes who communicated with Rodriguez after he announced his resignation.

According to Wakefield, the March 24 letter from Rodriguez advised the university to look for the names of athletes on its own phone log.

"Merely citing that the propounding party has access to the same information is not permissible," Wakefield wrote.

He also pushed for a swift response to a request for tapes, e-mails, notes or other records of meetings between Rodriguez and university officials in August.

He wrote that Rodriguez responded that he would supplement if he found any.

"This activity should have been undertaken at the time the discovery was originally served," Wakefield wrote.

"It is unfair for Rodriguez not to have diligently secured information responsive to this request, particularly given that deposition discovery will soon commence," he wrote.

Finally, Wakefield wants Rodriguez to produce any contract or agreement whereby anyone has agreed to pay the $4 million or any portion of it on Rodriguez's behalf.

Wakefield works for lead university counsel Thomas Flaherty, of Flaherty Sensabaugh and Bonasso. Jaclyn Bryk of the same firm also represents the university.

Robert P. Fitzsimmons and Robert J. Fitzsimmons of Wheeling also represent the university.

McGinley works at DiTrapano Barrett and DiPiero. He counsels Rodriguez along with Marvin Robon and Ethan Davis of Maumee, Ohio.

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