College to settle players’ lawsuit
Board president Bill Elliott reported Nov. 17 that the Feather River Community College District Board of Trustees voted in closed session to authorize college president and superintendent Ron Taylor to settle the lawsuit Emory Boyd Jr., Quinton Hancock and Nicholos Page filed against the college Jan. 25. Individually named defendants include Athletic Director Merle Trueblood, head football coach James Johnson and assistant coach Josh White.
No details of a settlement were available at press time. Plaintiffs’ attorney Diane K. Vaillancourt declined comment on the settlement. Attempts to reach Vaillancourt’s co-council Terri Keyser-Cooper and FRCCD attorneys were not successful.
All three plaintiffs played football for the Golden Eagles during the 2009-10 academic year.
Eric Small, former assistant head football coach at FRC, recruited the three players from South Carolina. Small filed suit against FRC, Trueblood and Johnson in November 2010, alleging discrimination, disparate treatment and violations of civil rights and federal statutes.
The players’ lawsuit alleges that once Small was no longer in the college’s employ, Trueblood, Johnson and White insulted, unfairly criticized, abused and taunted the team’s African-American players, including the plaintiffs, while Caucasian players were not treated in the same manner.
U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez signed an Oct. 20 order denying all motions for dismissal from defense attorneys Alesa Schachter and Jennifer L. Hippo.
Schachter’s and Hippo’s motion to dismiss asserted attorneys for Boyd, Hancock and Page failed to provide facts supporting claims of a racially hostile education environment, racial discrimination in education, Title VI violations.
In addition, Schachter and Hippo challenged the adequacy of claims of intentionally discriminating in the making of a contract and (failure to adhere to) the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, violations of United States Code.
As with his earlier decision on Eaglesmith v. Plumas Unified School District, Mendez based his decision on legal requirements to accept allegations in the first amended complaint as true at this stage of the lawsuit.
Eaglesmith sued the school district and county office of education for violations of his First Amendment rights. His wife and son, Ramona and Justus, joined with him in the lawsuit, as did Quincy High School staffers Eileen Cox and Bruce Barnes.
In Boyd Jr., et al, Mendez writes: “To survive a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff needs to plead ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.’” (Citations omitted.)
In response to an email asking for details of the settlement and the effect of settlement on the Small lawsuit, Taylor said only that the Boyd matter is settled and the Small case is still pending.