ST. MARYS — U.S. Federal District Court Judge James Carr has ordered that all complaints in a federal lawsuit against St. Marys head football coach Doug Frye and other school officials to be filed as individual cases.
Carr granted all parties leave to file the individual complaints to be filed by Thursday. Mark Weiker of Albeit Weiker in Columbus, attorney for the plaintiffs, filed the first amended complaint with the court on Nov. 22 on behalf of Joshua Chisholm.
Chisholm and David Lininger, parents of former players, and former players Levi Ginter, Jase Green, Chance Hicks, Dane Chisholm, and Lininger on behalf of a minor identified as R.L. filed the case June 29 making claims of players being subjected to regular, repeated and pervasive harassment, intimidation, bullying and humiliation under Doug and Bo Frye. Ginter and Green are no longer plaintiffs in the case but will still be assisting and likely will be called as witnesses if or when the case goes to trial. The minor not identified earlier in the case now has been named as Reid Lininger, son of David Lininger.
The St. Marys school board, Superintendent Shawn Brown, Athletic Director James Hollman, Frye and his son, assistant football Coach Bo Frye, are listed as defendants in the case.
Weiker released the following statement regarding the decision of the judge:
“Initially, we would have preferred to keep the cases together in order to control litigation expenses. But separating the cases will allow us to focus on how the coach and school treated each individual, which could end up being very beneficial in the long run. I’m continually impressed by the resilience of these players and their parents. They are fighting for more than themselves. The school failed lots of people by allowing this to happen.”
Attorney Tabitha Justice of Subashi & Wildermuth in Dayton, attorney for the school board, Brown, and Hollman said the decision will not effectively change how the defendants approach the case.
“Each plaintiff will need to meet the cause of action and see if it survives a motion to dismiss,” Justice said.
Chisholm’s new filing was mostly unchanged except for claims concerning harassment and retaliation on social media. Lima attorney Craig Gottschalk was singled out to have made several demeaning comments and disclosing lawfully protected information on a football supporter media page. Gottschalk said he represented the Fryes as well as other coaches and players earlier before the federal lawsuit was filed. He is also a coach with the seventh grade football team, which is not affiliated with the school.
Gottschalk said he wanted to read the filing before commenting.
Attorneys for the defendants have denied any wrongdoing in past filings and asked for the complaints to be dismissed at plaintiffs’ costs.
The plaintiffs have asked for compensatory and punitive damages, a requirement that the school board adopt harassment policies, procedures and practices suggested by the U.S. Department of Education, reimbursement of court costs and attorney fees and an order for any other relief that the court deems appropriate.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or on Twitter @LanceMihm.