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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Basketball Coach Files Defamation Suit in Assault Case

University of Mississippi basketball coach Andy Kennedy has filed a defamation lawsuit against a cab driver and a valet who say the coach struck the cabbie early Thursday morning in Cincinnati.

The lawsuit seeks $25,000 each from cab driver Mohamed Jiddou and valet Michael Strother.

The suit states that Jiddou's criminal complaint, which says Kennedy punched him with a closed fist while yelling racial slurs, is false. Strother backed up Jiddou's version of events in an interview with reporter Eric Flack of WLWT in Cincinnati.

Flack has been on top of the story from the beginning, and you can check out his report from last night on the latest in the Kennedy case. Near the end of the piece, you can click on a link to the lawsuit.

Today's Cincinnati Enquirer story includes a couple of intriguing quotes from lawyers involved in the case.

Here's this from Kennedy's attorney, Richard Katz:

"As an athlete or a coach, if you're in this business and something happens, whether you're innocent or guilty, it's with you for the rest of your career. We don't want this to happen. We want this to be over and then throw the baggage in the river."

Katz seems to be saying that, from his view, this is not about a possible crime; it's about Kennedy's career. In a startling moment of candor, he also seems to admit that the purpose of the lawsuit is to help force the criminal case "to be over."

Here is a quote from Jiddou's attorney, Rusty O'Brien:

"Any basketball coach knows that the best defense is a good offense. The guy's back is up against the wall because he got caught red-handed, so he's coming out with his guns blazing."

Ironically, the opposing attorneys seem to agree: In less than 24 hours time, the focus has gone from a possible crime to Kennedy's career.

Kennedy's defamation lawsuit raises some interesting legal ethics questions, and we will be examining those in an upcoming post.

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