$1 million lawsuit dismissed

August 04, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

A Carroll judge has dismissed a $1 million lawsuit against a former Westminster High School football coach because the lawyer for the former player who filed the suit lied to the judge about providing required materials to the coach's lawyer.

In an order signed Monday and filed yesterday in Carroll Circuit Court, Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. said that Danny R. Seidman, a Baltimore attorney representing plaintiff Micha L. Shaffer, "misled the court" in June when he wrote that he had provided material requested by John M. Quinn, the Rockville attorney representing former coach Jeff Oeming.

The material -- already three months overdue at the time Mr. Seidman claimed to have provided it to Mr. Quinn -- has yet to be turned over to the attorney, the judge's order said.

The judge's ruling came in response to the second dismissal motion filed by Mr. Oeming's attorney. Judge Beck denied the first motion, which claimed that Mr. Seidman failed to provide answers to questions from Mr. Quinn, after receiving Mr. Seidman's June letter stating that he had just mailed the answers to the attorney.

The judge's dismissal order said the "representations contained in the plaintiff's response to the original motion were false at the time of filing. . . . Simply stated, the court cannot condone this type of conduct by officers of the court."

At a show cause hearing to be scheduled later, Judge Beck will give Mr. Seidman an opportunity to explain "why the court should not refer this matter to the Attorney Grievance Commission based upon counsel's failure to comply" with rules of conduct regarding "candor toward the tribunal."

Mr. Seidman declined to comment yesterday, saying he hadn't seen the judge's order. He also declined a reporter's offer to send him a copy of the order and said he wanted to wait to receive a copy in the mail from the court.

"We will deal with it at the appropriate time," the lawyer said.

Mr. Shaffer, who graduated from Westminster High School this year, filed the three-count suit against Mr. Oeming and the county school board in January. He claimed that the now-retired Owls head coach "deliberately" threw Mr. Shaffer to the ground during a practice session on Labor Day 1992.

Mr. Shaffer "suffered and continues to suffer pain, anguish, anxiety, apprehension and nervousness," the suit said.

The suit claimed that the Carroll school board was negligent because it "knew or should have known that [Mr.] Oeming was a man of violent and dangerous disposition."

Judge Beck dismissed the school board from the suit in March.

In December 1992, prosecutors dropped a misdemeanor battery charge Mr. Shaffer filed several days after the post-practice altercation.

Neither side disputes that Mr. Oeming pinned Mr. Shaffer to the ground after the practice session at the high school. The attorney who represented the coach in the criminal case said Mr. Shaffer provoked Mr. Oeming.

When prosecutors dropped the battery charge against Mr. Oeming Dec. 2, 1992, they issued a statement saying the coach was "legally required to take action to maintain an atmosphere of order and discipline" when he pinned Mr. Shaffer to the ground.

The statement, noting that Mr. Shaffer was yelling profanities at the coach, said the coach believed Mr. Shaffer was "getting out of control, whereupon he physically acted in a manner to prevent an assault."

Mr. Oeming did not return messages left on his answering machine yesterday. His lawyer, Mr. Quinn, was in a trial in Frederick County and could not be reached for comment. Mr. Shaffer also could not be reached.

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