Bulk of Ex-Coach's Lawsuit Against District Dismissed

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Sarasota Herald Tribune (Florida)


BRADENTON — Senior Circuit Judge Lee Haworth on Tuesday dismissed seven of eight counts that former Manatee High School football coach Joe Kinnan brought in an amended lawsuit against the School Board of Manatee County and its former leaders.

Haworth dismissed all of Kinnan's claims against the district except for a claim of negligence, and he dismissed all of the claims against former superintendent Rick Mills and former investigator for the school board Troy Pumphrey, except for a claim of interference with contractual relationship.

Neither Kinnan nor his attorney responded to a call seeking comment, and Mills declined to comment.

"The district will continue to defend this matter and awaits any supplement hearings," District general counsel Mitch Teitelbaum said.

Kinnan won 27 district titles and five state championships during his 29 years at Manatee as one of the most successful football coaches in the state. The field at Manatee High bears his name. But when the coach resigned in 2014, he said it was because Manatee County's leaders had it out for him.

Kinnan filed suit last September against the School Board, Mills and Pumphrey, claiming board members and administrators sought to advance their own political careers by targeting a fabricated "good ol' boy network" of Manatee High supporters.

Judge Brian Iten dismissed Kinnan's original suit on Feb 2.

Kinnan's amended case continued to describe Pumphrey as Mills' personal henchman, instigating investigations and using the legal system in a "perverted manner" to harass

Kinnan. Kinnan alleges Manatee County's leaders released misleading information about his role in scandals involving the baseball team and Roderick Frazier, a former assistant coach who pleaded no contest to accusations of misdemeanor battery involving inappropriate contact with a female student.

Haworth's ruling cited missing evidence, unclear allegations and sovereign immunity among many reasons in his dismissal of Kinnan's claim.

Half of the counts in Kinnan's case have been dismissed permanently. Kinnan can amend the remaining counts and refile his case by Oct. 13.

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September 21, 2017


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