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WVU files motion to dismiss Big East lawsuit

Click here to read the lawsuit.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University has sent a motion to dismiss the Big East's lawsuit against the school to the Providence County (R.I.) Superior Court.

The court's clerk office was unable to confirm the filing was made Tuesday. If it was not, the motion is expected to be filed today.

According to a copy of the motion, acquired Tuesday by the Gazette, WVU is claiming the lawsuit should be dismissed for four reasons, the primary that "neither the Rhode Island Long-Arm Statute ... nor Rule 4 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure contemplate or authorize the Court's assertion of jurisdiction over WVU."

The school's lawyers are basically claiming Rhode Island's court doesn't have jurisdiction over the state of West Virginia. They are claiming West Virginia University as an agency of the state.

"Principles of comity require the Court to dismiss this action in recognition of WVU's sovereign immunity, as an instrumentality of the State of West Virginia," reads the motion. It later calls WVU "an alter ego of the State of West Virginia."

WVU's claim is the Big East's lawsuit filed in Providence "involves facts and circumstances that are identical to those" within the suit filed in Monongalia County by the school against the conference and should not be heard twice.

The motion to dismiss also attacks the Big East suit as a "hasty filing" and "entirely unwarranted attempt to sidestep the jurisdiction of the West Virginia Circuit Court."

It attacks the conference, saying the action stems from the "ongoing denigration of the Big East as a football conference, in breach of the Big East Amended and Restated Bylaws."

The motion also points to West Virginia's taxpayers, claiming going through with a suit in Providence would "unquestionably place substantial, practical, fiscal and administrative burdens on WVU's officials, administrators and coaches. Significantly, and distinct from cases involving most other defendants, the expenses associated with this matter are drawn from the State ... not from the coffers of a private corporation entity."

The filing, signed by Thomas F. Holt of K&L Gates LLP, with an address in Boston, concludes by asking the Rhode Island court to dismiss "or, in the alternative, stay this action pending resolution of the essentially identical, earlier-filed action brought by the Board of Governors of West Virginia University, currently pending before the Circuit Court of Monongalia County."

The motion is 133 pages in length and includes the complaint (and amended complaint) of declaratory judgment, breach of contract and permanent injunctive relief case filed by the school against the Big East. West Virginia, which asks for a jury trial in Monongalia County, is represented in that case by, among others, Stephen Lacagnin and Charleston lawyer Guy R. Bucci with state attorney general Darrell McGraw as counsel.

Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvingle@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.


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