Swanenburg’s Sad Saga ENDS!

Posted: April 1, 2015 in defamation, hayden fisher, HRLax, lax, swanenburg, US Lacrosse

April 1, 2015

swanenberg, swanenburg, hrlax, lax, patriots, lacrosse

Christopher Swanenburg Capital Lacrosse, LLC was founded in 2003 with a goal of providing exceptional lacrosse instruction and competition. For over a decade, Capital Lacrosse has developed and hosted a variety of offerings, ranging from private lessons and camps to tournaments and travel teams. Some of these events are among the most successful and popular lacrosse offerings in the state of Virginia and beyond. Capital Lacrosse proudly sponsors the Colonial Challenge and Summer Celebration lacrosse tournaments in Williamsburg, VA and the Peninsula Patriots lacrosse All-Star travel teams. The tournaments have quickly become two of the top events in the Mid-Atlantic while the Patriots boast some of the most competitive teams in the region. In 2014, two Peninsula Patriots were named High School All-Americans and numerous Patriot alums represented the program at the NCAA varsity level. The Peninsula Patriots boys lacrosse travel program is forming its 2015 summer rosters. U11, U13, U15 and HS boys teams are being fielded. For more information, please call (757) 534-9238. Source: Capital Lacrosse Website

Christopher Swanenburg’s Sad Saga ended today when a jury of his peers in Newport News Circuit Court found in favor of Todd Boward, Head Coach, Men’s Lacrosse, Christopher Newport University. At the end of a three day jury trial, a jury deliberated for nearly three hours before returning a verdict for Todd Boward effectively ending Swanenburg’s legal battle against him. Swanenburg had originally sought $5,000,000 in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages in his original suit against Boward in a case that went to trial and Swanenburg through his attorney effectively quit electing to nonsuit in 2013. The case was refiled in 2014 with Swanenburg seeking $500,000 in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages and was decided today. The effect of this jury verdict is that Swanenburg gets nothing, no compensatory damages award and no punitive damages award as the case was ended by a jury in a manner that is unfavorable to him.

In non-legal parlance, Boward Won, Swanenburg Lost!

The case was presided over by the Honorable Timothy S. Fisher, Presiding Judge, Newport News Circuit Court, 7th Judicial Circuit.

Todd Boward was represented by Frank A. Edgar, Jr., Newport News, Virginia.

Swanenburg was represented by D. Hayden Fisher, Richmond, Virginia.

Swanenburg is now 0-3 in his continuing legal actions against Boward, and 0-1 in his legal action against a player’s father all allegedly stemming from Swanenburg’s termination from CNU.  Swanenburg’s legal campaign against Boward began in June 2011 after Swanenburg’s largest customer, Vic Goeller, then coach of Paul IV Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia and owner of Tribal Lacrosse alleged that Boward had made defamatory statements about Swanenburg at a lacrosse recruiting tournament in June 2010. Boward has always contested Goeller’s version of the conversation with particular emphasis on the repugnantly racist term but has always admitted to three literally true statements. The alleged statements came on the heels of Swanenburg’s termination as the Head Coach, Men’s Lacrosse at CNU. Swanenburg’s termination came closely after he uttered a morally repugnant racist term at Guilford College on March 3, 2010 to characterize the music being played at halftime. Swanenburg had claimed that he uttered the word to suggest that the song immediately after was more appropriate and argued that he was not fired as a result.

In closing arguments, Swanenburg’s attorney/counselor, Hayden Fisher stated to the jury repeatedly that either you believe Boward or you believe Goeller and if you believe Goeller, Boward loses and Swanenburg wins. Unfortunately, presenting an either/or choice to the jury didn’t seem to work out too well for either Goeller or Swanenburg considering the jury found for Boward essentially indicating that they did not believe Goeller or Swanenburg.

In his close, probably one of Fisher’s most nonsensical and ridiculous arguments seemed to be that Boward had pledged donations to CNU in an attempt to buy his job.  Fisher argued that Boward had a weekly donation deducted from his paycheck and that he secretly met with the team’s largest donor. Fisher also told the jury that Boward had no support from anyone at CNU and also saying that there was not one adult that testified on his behalf, apparently in reference to the numerous players that Boward’s defense team had called to the witness stand.

In one of the lighter moments of the trial, Boward’s attorney, Frank A. Edgar, Jr. in his closing argument, told the jury that he really didn’t intend to respond to Fisher’s closing arguments by telling the jury that it was as if Fisher had just let loose 1,000 mice in the courtroom and he, Mr. Edgar was not going to chase them. The bulk of Mr. Edgar’s closing argument focused on the testimony that had been elicited throughout the trial. Mr. Edgar, then methodically moved through the elements of the case that apparently further convinced the jury to find on his client’s behalf.

Ironically, Fisher’s closing argument was remarkably similar to his closing argument in a defamation trial in York-Poquoson Circuit Court on July 8th & 9th of 2014. It is also important to note that Swanenburg appeared as Fisher’s star witness on day 1 of the trial and Fisher’s closing argument is on day 2.  Coaches are Mandated Reporters II

Admissions

Throughout the trial, Boward’s defense team had repeatedly argued that Swanenburg was bound by his testimony and his admissions. Although for most, testimony is a pretty easy legal concept some may not understand what admissions are. Prior to trial, the opposing attorneys serve upon the other Request for Admissions. Essentially, each party legally requests of the other answers in the form of “Admitted” or “Denied” and those answers are admissions under oath and become part of the record when entered as exhibits. An actual example would be the Request for Admissions served upon Swanenburg, specifically #18 “Admit that you were fired by CNU as its head coach for men’s lacrosse, at least in part, because you uttered the word n*##^! in front of members of the CNU, men’s lacrosse team.” Prior to October 2014 hearing Swanenburg essentially denied admissions that he had previously admitted either through previous testimony or pleadings in his legal actions against Boward.

Boward’s attorney filed a motion for sufficiency and a hearing was conducted on October 21, 2014. The result of that hearing was that Swanenburg essentially reversed most if not all of his admissions including #18 from Denied to Admitted. One of the most interesting aspects of that hearing was that Fisher spent a considerable amount of time complaining about this blog and specifically it’s author. At the hearing Fisher apparently got his briefs all tied up in a knot, or didn’t have any (never go to court without your briefs) when he  argued that he wanted a protective order to prevent this blog from publishing Swanenburg’s admissions. After the hearing Fisher apparently attempted to litigate by email sending at least one letter to judge apparently attempting to reverse some of Swanenburg’s admissions.

Click Here to read the transcript from the hearing and discover who he is referencing in his argument.

swanenburg, hayden fisher, colonial challenge, transcript

In response to the defense Request for Admissions, Swanenburg actual denied requests that he had already admitted in previous requests, depositions, and/or testimony. Boward’s defense team filed a Motion for Sufficiency and a hearing was held on October 21, 2014. Click the photo to read the transcript from the proceeding. CAUTION: The transcript contains repugnantly racist language

Costs

In many ways, filing, discovery, litigation, and trial costs are probably the biggest deterrent to taking a case to trial and quite possibly why so few cases actually make it to trial. There are many reports that suggest that 95% of civil cases filed do not make to trial and are settled. To be clear, the costs associated with Swanenburg’s nearly four year litigation are likely to be enormous. It is also important to note that Swanenburg essentially filed four lawsuits following his termination from CNU. He filed lawsuits in 2011, 2012, 2013, & 2014 and nonsuited a trial in 2013 immediately at the conclusion of his case-in-chief which prevented the defense to present their case. Ironically his obsessive legal campaign appears to be over almost to the day of the five year anniversary of his termination from CNU. It all began when Swanenburg used a morally offensive repugnantly racial comment about the music that was being played at halftime at Guilford College on March 3, 2010 and was fired “at least in part”* as a result. *RFA #18

Determining the costs associated with this trial are difficult to ascertain because of attorney-client privilege but some have suggested that the cost of the trial alone probably exceeded $100,000 which does not include all of the pre-trial discovery, depositions, hearings, trial prep, legal filings, transcripts, court reporter, and the three pepperoni pizzas for the jury paid for by the court. The jury’s request for three pepperoni pizzas was made in open court and there is nothing on the record to indicate that the jury returned any verdict on the pizzas, however; getting seven people to agree on only one pizza topping was possibly an indication that the jury wasn’t going to have any problem reaching a unanimous verdict. (if you need pizza for your next jury trial in Newport News or you are a juror, ask the bailiff to call Anna’s, they deliver and they know how to find the courthouse)

Below are filing logs from Newport News Circuit Court:

Sanctions

It is likely that Boward’s defense team may have a legal standing to file sanctions in this case. On day one of the trial Boward’s defense team noticed the court that they had received an email from Fisher that was unethical and unprofessional and it now appears that email has been forwarded to Virginia State Bar as potentially a violation of the professional rules of conduct.

Ironically, The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled on a very similar case in, NORTHERN VIRGINIA REAL ESTATE, INC., et al. v. Karen MARTINS, et al.,Record Nos. 101836, 101844. Decided: January 13, 2012 . This blog also referenced that case in A Lacrosse Story? in July 2014.

In his first trial, Boward’s defense team moved to strike Swanenburg’s evidence at the close of the plaintiffs’ case in chief and before the judge ruled on the motion, Swanenburg through his attorney moved to nonsuit his case and the judge ultimately denied Boward’s motion to strike and granted the nonsuit for Swanenburg. The significance is that in nonsuiting his first case, Swanenburg refiled enabling this second trial to proceed. In NVRE v. Martins, the defendants moved to strike the plaintiffs’ evidence at the close of the plaintiffs’ case-in-chief but, before the trial court ruled on the defendants’ motion to strike, the plaintiffs moved to nonsuit, and the trial court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to nonsuit as against all defendants.

The defendant, Martins subsequently filed a motion for sanctions and the trial court granted the motion. “Specifically, the trial court found that: (1) the complaint, by stating that the allegations were likely to have support “after reasonable opportunity for discovery,” was a “per se” violation of Code § 8.01–271.1 under Ford Motor Co. v. Benitez, 273 Va. 242, 639 S.E.2d 203 (2007); (2) the plaintiffs’ claims “were filed out of a vindictive and malevolent desire to injure and intimidate a business competitor”; and (3) the plaintiffs lacked “any factual basis for their $135,000 claim to the ‘second commission’, and lack[ed] any basis for the $1.35 million defamation claims. Plaintiffs further lack[ed] a factual basis for a conspiracy claim.” The trial court ultimately granted sanctions and ordered the plaintiff and their attorney to pay over $250,000 to the defendants. The plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia and the trial court’s ruling was AFFIRMED.

UPDATE: Boward files Motion for Sanctions

On April 22, 2015 Boward’s Defense Team filed a comprehensive Motion for Sanctions essentially asking for fees and costs associated with Swanenburg’s legal actions against Boward. Swanenburg will probably file an Opposition to the sanctions in the next couple of weeks which will be followed by a rebuttal brief from Boward’s counsel.

US Lacrosse Code of Conduct

Players, coaches, officials, parents and spectators are to conduct themselves in a manner that “Honors the Game” and demonstrates respect to other players, coaches, officials, parents, spectators and fans. In becoming a member of the lacrosse community an individual assumes certain obligations and responsibilities to the game of lacrosse and its participants. The essential elements in this “Code of Conduct” are HONESTY and INTEGRITY. Those who conduct themselves in a manner that reflects these elements will bring credit to the sport of lacrosse, themselves, their team and their organization.

“Representing the fastest growing national sport, as an emerging force in sports organizations and leadership, US Lacrosse has a duty to provide positive influence over athletic administrators, programs, officials, coaches, and players. The goal of US Lacrosse, in creating the Code of Ethics, is to promote sportsmanship and character by teaching, advocating, modeling and enforcing ethical principles, while preserving the integrity of the game.

By affiliating with US Lacrosse, individuals and organizations agree to comply with the aspirational guidelines set forth in the Code of Ethics. Failure to adhere to this Code of Ethics may result in revocation of membership or affiliation. US Lacrosse encourages others involved with the sport of lacrosse to adopt and follow these important guidelines.”

It is likely that US Lacrosse will review Swanenburg’s case and make a determination on whether or not he represents the values that US Lacrosse espouses. If they determine that his behavior is not in keeping with those values his membership could be revoked.

Support Coach Boward

Coach Boward’s legal bills are massive and you can help Coach Boward for free simply by doing some online shopping.

Sponsor Support Coach Todd Boward for free! Just click the link

Sponsor Support Coach Todd Boward for free with your online purchases. If you shop online, do this via one of the webshops. This way, Support Coach Todd Boward receives additional sponsorship to achieve the goal set in the Sponsormeter. It doesn’t cost you anything extra!

Local Media Coverage:

Peter Dujardin of the The Daily Press also reported on the trial in an article: Jury sides with current CNU lacrosse coach in defamation case, Mr. Dujardin’s exclusive article is a good snapshot of the case.

Court Slams Frivolous & Vexatious Litigation with $4.7 MM in Fees, by Gene Quinn

Related Posts

A Lacrosse Story?

Hanging on by a Thread

Swanenburg’s Sad Saga

Since this case, according to Swanenburg and Fisher was all about lyrics, we would like to offer a few of our own. Understanding that your theme song for this saga has been “Don’t Stop Believing” and we have been unable to find a song entitled “When Do We Start Believing?” we thought it would be appropriate to end with a live version of “Say Goodbye” by the Dave Matthews Band. Interestingly or not, saying goodbye is something that you apparently forgot or chose not to do when you left the courtroom.

Goodbye,

Friends and Supporters of Coach Boward

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