Defense files summary judgement in Papagolos case

Thirty eight months after being relieved from her role as head coach of the Lafayette High softball team, and 35 months after starting a legal battle with the school district, there is significant movement in the case involving Cay Papagolos.

A motion for summary judgement was filed with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi at 12:33 Thursday afternoon. Joe Murray, the Ripley-based lawyer representing Papagolos, said he received the information and was moving forward with a response of his own.

Murray has up to 14 days to file that response with the judge in the case. The motion for summary judgement asks whether there are any material facts relating to Papagolos’ claims that can be determined by a jury. If no such facts exists, the plaintiff’s claims can dismissed by operation of law through the court. The summary judgement was entered by the lawyer representing the district, Jarrad Garner, who works for Adams and Reese LLP out of Jackson. The defendants are listed as the school district, Mike McPhail, Board Member in his official and individual capacities and Athletics Director Jeff Nelson in is official and individual capacities.

In short, Garner is saying that certain aspects of the case due not satisfy legal standards to put the claims to a jury. Papagolos’ claim was she was not offered a financial supplement the same as baseball coach Greg Lewis, as well as other aspects involving her employment and dismissal. The offices of Title IX and Title VII, which involves the Civil Rights Act of 1964, have been involved with the case as well. The filing comes on the heels of depositions held on Lafayette’s campus on May 9.

In the introduction, the claim is asked to be dismissed on three separate and independent reasons. The first states that all actions toward the Plaintiff, Papagolos, by McPhail and Nelson are presumed to be in their official capacities as board member and athletic director, respectively.

It goes on to say that the has no evidence to rebut this presumption, McPhail and Nelson cannot be individually liable. Second, even if the court finds that Nelson and McPhail were not acting in their official capacities, Papagolos has not been harmed or injured because she received the full amount of compensation due to her under the contract and agreed to her reassignment under the plain language of the contract.

Third, even if this Court finds that Nelson and McPhail were not acting in their official capacities, Papagolos¬†cannot identify any acts performed by Nelson or McPhail that constitute willful, malicious, or intentional conduct. For any and all of these reasons, Papagolos’¬†claims against the Individual defendants must be dismissed with prejudice.

According to the filing, Papagolos’ only remaining claim against McPhail and Nelson is for malicious interference with her contract. Nelson re-assigned Papagolos following the third game of the season in 2011. Her contract to coach was not renewed and the decision was upheld by the school board following a public hearing on the matter in June, 2011.

A trial date has been set for Sept. 22 in Oxford, according to Murray, and that will stand unless one of the attorneys ask for the date to be changed or the court decides to change it. Both situations are rare, according to Murray.

“This is very normal in federal litigation. I have read the papers and I feel like we will be able to overcome these motions and take this case to trial. After we reviewed the evidence here, there are going to be some factual issues that a jury must decide,” Murray said. “We plan on responding. We plan on having a clear and forceful response to where the judge understands that these issues are black and white and deserving of a jury’s consideration.”

A phone call placed to Garner seeking comment Thursday afternoon has not been returned.

One Response so far.

  1. Tim Adams says:

    My daughter played softball for coach pap. She was an excellent coach and loved her girls. There is no doubt the softball team was treated unfairly. Coach pap had no assistants that weren’t volunteers while the baseball team had 3 or 4 coaches. The season this happened the girls almost had to forfeit the season. Only after lawsuits were filed did the softball team get assistants on the payroll. Meanwhile, Nelson and superintendent Mike Foster “mysteriously” retired. As a parent that went through this ordeal, I definitely think there was some good ole boy “justice” done to a woman just trying to give her girls an equal chance as the boys.

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