Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Coach Pressler files lawsuit against Duke University & John Burness

Former Duke Lacrosse Coach Mike Pressler has filed a lawsuit suit against Duke University and John Burness, the university's chief spokesman. The lawsuit alleges that John Burness, in his official capacity, made slanderous and defamatory remarks about him to the media. NewsObserver

MICHAEL J. PRESSLER vs DUKE UNIVERSITY and JOHN F. BURNESS

The allegation of the slanderous and defamatory remarks are noted as,

14. In the course and scope of his employment as Defendant Duke's Senior Vice President for Pubic Affairs and Government Relations and its official Spokesperson, Defendant Burness knowingly made false, defamatory and slanderous statements about Coach Pressler to a reporter, statements that were then published to the public on April 9, 2007 in Newsday and later posted on a website, www.newsday.com.

15. Acting as Defendant Duke's Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations and its official Spokesperson, Defendant Burness knowingly and falsely told the Newsday reporter that Coach Pressler was terminated because he had not adequately supervised his team. Specifically, Defendant Burness claimed a false justification for the firing of Coach Pressler by stating, "One of the things we certainly have come to understand in this case is that the coaches in general in each of our sports are responsible for the behavior of their teams." Defendant Burness further drew defamatory contrasts between Coach Pressler and his recently hired replacement, saying that the difference between Coach Pressler and the new coach was "day and night," and quoting Defendant Duke's President Richard Brodhead as remarking of the replacement and the contrast with the former coach, "This guy's a mensch. This guy gets it."

16. Defendant Burness's statements to the Newsday reporter that Coach
Pressler was responsible for his team's behavior, and asserting that there was a significant difference in quality between Coach Pressler and his recently hired replacement were false, defamatory and slanderous, and were intended to be defamatory and slanderous. At the time of he communicated these statements, Defendant Burness knew and maliciously intended that his slanderous statements would be published nationwide in Newsday and posted on the internet for the entire world to read.


17. On June 7, 2007, Defendant Duke, again acting through its for Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations and its official Spokesperson, Defendant Burness, issued for national publication a statement to the Associated Press regarding the firing of Coach Pressler, claiming, "last spring it was essential for the team to have a change of leadership in order to move forward."

18. The June 7, 2007 statement issued to the Associated Press by Defendants Duke and Burness to the Associated Press that Coach Pressler needed to be replaced in his capacity as the Head Coach of the Duke Men's Lacrosse Team was false, defamatory and slanderous, and it was intended to be defamatory and slanderous. At the time of he communicated these statements, Defendant Burness knew and maliciously intended that his slanderous statements would be published nationwide by the Associated Press posted on the internet for the entire world to read.

No comment was heard from Duke's Crisis Management Team.

LieStoppers recommends Coach Pressler's book, It's Not About The Truth.

5 comments:

W. R. Chambers said...

I've been following the DIW blog and have read Until Proven Innocent and It's Not About The Truth, two very different and very interesting books. The part about Coach Pressler's family in It's Not About The Truth is very moving.

I don't know why Burness said what Presslier's lawsuit alleges and about which I don't think there is any doubt. I watched video of a conference at which Burness spoke. He seemed like a really decent guy.

Regardless of Burness's motives, I suppose it's possible that Pressler may believe - not without reason - that he has to completely and utterly clear his name in a very public way in order to have a chance to once again hold one of the head coaching positions at one of the very top lacrosse programs in the country. Or maybe that's not it. Maybe he just wants his good name back - to erase any doubt in the public's mind. One can't blame him for that. It's not about the money. it's about the truth.

As a lacrosse fan, my guess is that the lacrosse community knows Pressler is a first rate guy who was a victim of the Nifong witch hunt and Duke's frantic efforts to deal with a tsunami of publiciy, and that he ought to have one of the top jobs. But AD's and University Presidents may be gun shy about hiring him. If the lawsuit gives Pressler and his wonderful family his and their good name back then it will be worth it.

But it's a darn shame there has to be another expensive lawsuit to right the wrongs done by Nifong, the press and, sadly, some members of the Duke Administration.

in the meantime, I'm looking forward to going to Rhode Island to watch Coach Pressler's team play. I'd heard of Bryant before, but now I'm curious, curious to see how a Pressler team plays. I've looked at Bryant's website and it seems like a pretty cool place. i'm looking forward to visiting Bryant.

Anonymous said...

But it's a darn shame there has to be another expensive lawsuit to right the wrongs done by Nifong, the press and, sadly, some members of the Duke Administration.

Uh, I think you're forgetting a certain serial false accuser.

Anonymous said...

Those were just stupid remarks made by Burness. You would think someone who was Duke's Senior VP of Public Communications & Govt Relations would know once the lawsuit was settled to keep his mouth shut. He said this to a reporter, it was not a mistake. I suspect he is a bitter person. Duke just can't move on because they still have the same fools in charge. When will Duke fire Burness & Brodhead?

Anonymous said...

Burness leaves of his own accord in a few months (although, I suspect Duke's Steel helped him out the door)- Glad to see the Coach call this guy on his remarks. I don't see anything bitter about Burness - he is just a big fat guy who got lucky in his career and showed what a dope he is during a crisis.

Chris Grieb said...

I hope Coach Pressler get a lot of money.