38 lacrosse players abandon lawsuit against city
Lawyers for 38 former Duke University lacrosse players have asked a federal judge to dismiss what remains of their lawsuit against the city and Durham police.
Clerks forwarded the motion to U.S. District Court Judge James Beaty Jr. on Tuesday. The judge is considered certain to sign it.
City Attorney Patrick Baker noted that the players signaled at the end of August they’d abandon the litigation unless the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review a lower-court ruling that was unfavorable to their cause.
The Supreme Court having now said it won’t intervene, “we are pleased to bring closure to [this] portion of the case and hope that the remaining plaintiffs will follow suit,” Baker said in response to the players’ filing.
The lawsuit was the third to target the city over its handling of the 2006 police investigation of stripper Crystal Mangum’s false claim she’d been raped at a lacrosse-team party. The other two remain pending.
The 38 players – known collectively as the “Carrington” group for lead plaintiff Edward “Bo” Carrington – escaped indictment in the 2006 investigation.
But like the other groups who’ve sued, they argued that authorities conspired to frame them by propping up allegations from Mangum that seemed flimsy from the outset.
Monday’s dismissal request “marks the end of a long struggle for justice by the Carrington plaintiffs, but we fully support the continued efforts of the remaining plaintiffs to seek a measure of justice,” said David Thompson, a lawyer for the 38.
Thompson’s clients earlier this year settled out of court with Duke University, another target of the lawsuit they’d filed five years before with the professed intention of securing “full truth and accountability” from campus and city officials.
Beaty in August also tossed their claims against Linwood Wilson, a one-time investigator for former District Attorney Mike Nifong.
Judges from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, however, struck the decisive blow against the case last December when they threw out all of the group’s federal civil-rights claims against the city.
The 4th Circuit ruling left the 38 but a single claim against the city, alleging violations of the players’ due process and equal protection rights under North Carolina constitution.
Legally speaking, the state claim was a last-ditch catch-all that in practice rarely works when a lawsuit had initially focused on other matters.
The remaining two cases involve a group of three players who faced indictment in 2006, and another group of three that didn’t.
The indicted players, later exonerated, were David Evans, Colin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann. The 4th Circuit allowed them to pursue a malicious-prosecution claim against two former police detectives who handled the 2006 investigation.
The unindicted players, represented by Durham lawyer Bob Ekstrand, were Ryan McFadyen, Breck Archer and Matt Wilson. Judges allowed them to pursue only the state-constitution catch-all against the city the Carrington group has now abandoned.
The requested dismissal from the 38 is “with prejudice,” meaning the players won’t be able to resurrect it even if the other two cases against the city are successful.