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Lawsuit Against Auriemma Dismissed; Appeal Filed

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

by: Rich Elliott

The employment discrimination lawsuit case filed against UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma and USA Basketball has been dismissed. Judge Cynthia S. Kern dismissed the case April 11 and it was entered by the Clerk of the Civil Court of New York Monday.

The suit, which was originally filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan in June, initially stated that NBA security official Kelley Hardwick was removed from the security detail of the U.S. Women’s National Team because she allegedly spurned the sexual advances of Auriemma in Europe in 2009.

Hardwick’s attorney, Randolph M. McLaughlin of Newman Ferrara LLP, subsequently filed an amended complaint in October alleging that she was “subjected to a hostile work environment and a verbal assault by Auriemma and other acts meant to intimidate and retaliate against her’’ for originally filing the lawsuit, while serving on the security detail for the U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team in London this summer.

“The decision speaks for itself,’’ said Kenneth A. Novikoff of Rivkin Radler LLP, one of the attorneys representing Auriemma. “The court viewed that it had no jurisdiction to hear the claims. Mr. Auriemma is pleased with the decision of the court in dismissing the case. He trusted that the court would give fair consideration to his unconditional denials of the allegations that were made against him. And he was confident that the court would consider all the arguments that we made and would dismiss the lawsuit. And he’s happy that the court did.’’

The case was dismissed by Kern on the basis that Auriemma does not live or work in New York. McLaughlin filed an appeal Tuesday with the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York.

“Her decision’s based on what’s popularly called `legal technicalities,’ personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction,’’ McLaughlin said. “And these are technical terms that lawyers use to try to avoid dealing with merits of the case. She’s expressing her opinion and she’s not deciding the merits whether or not Mr. Auriemma did the things we allege that he did in the complaint. She’s just saying that jurisdictionally we don’t have a basis to bring them into New York. On that issue, we think she’s wrong. He does have a relationship to New York. He knew she worked in New York. She works in New York. And he injected himself by having someone call into New York to do his bidding. And that’s what’s alleged in the complaint. We believe we will be fully vindicated on appeal and this case will be back in front of a State Supreme Court judge and he will be on trial.’’

McLaughlin said that the appeals process could take up to six months or one year to reach a conclusion.

Auriemma declined to comment Tuesday.

“The decision is incorrect,’’ McLaughlin said. “We think that Mr. Auriemma, as alleged in the complaint, took certain actions to have and continue to injure Ms. Hardwick’s performance of her job in New York. And that the New York Courts have jurisdiction over him because he injected himself into Ms. Hardwick’s life by trying to influence her employer’s decisions. We’re appealing that decision and we expect that in due course it will be reversed. This is not the end for Mr. Auriemma. It’s just the beginning. The case isn’t over. Not by a long shot.’’