Wilkinson Walsh Secures Victory for NCAA in Defamation Suit by former USC Football Coach

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WASHINGTON – Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz, led by Partners Kosta Stojilkovic and Rakesh Kilaru, and Counsel Kori Bell, won a complete victory for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in a lawsuit brought by former University of Southern California (USC) assistant football coach Todd McNair.  The jury concluded that the NCAA had not defamed McNair in a Committee on Infractions report issued in 2010.

McNair filed this lawsuit seven years ago, shortly after the Committee on Infractions report was upheld by a separate appeals committee.  Apart from many other findings against USC, the Committee found that McNair knew about the improper benefits that star running back Reggie Bush had received while at USC, and failed to provide truthful information about them.  In his lawsuit, McNair alleged that the statements about him in the report were false and defamatory, and he sought over $27 million in damages for that claim.  He also brought claims for breach of contract and negligence.

The trial began on April 18 and lasted over three weeks.  Before the case went to the jury, the plaintiff agreed to dismiss the breach of contract and negligence claims with prejudice, meaning that the jury’s deliberations would focus solely on defamation.  On May 21, after over a week of deliberation, the jury concluded that the statements made in the report were not false, and thus did not reach any of the other issues presented to them for decision.

The decision was the latest in a string of victories by the next generation of trial lawyers at Wilkinson, Walsh + Eskovitz.  Earlier this month, Founding Partner Brian Stekloff served as lead counsel and won the second state-court bellwether trial over the blood-thinner Xarelto when the jury rejected claims against Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals. WW+E Partners Lori Alvino McGill and Jeremy Barber also served as counsel for Bayer in the trial.  WW+E’s team on the McNair case did not feature any of the firm’s Founding Partners.  These latest developments confirm that WW+E is indeed developing the next generation of trial lawyers—to the benefit of the firm’s clients.

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