(CN) – Duke University’s former lacrosse head coach is not required to arbitrate his claim that university officials slandered him during the 2006 scandal that erupted when a stripper accused three members of the lacrosse team of raping her, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled.
Michael Pressler sued Duke, claiming its officials made false, defamatory and slanderous statements to the press in the wake of the scandal. The accused players were eventually cleared of the charges, and Pressler was replaced with an interim coach.
His contract stipulated that any disputes that arose during the course of his employment would be settled through arbitration.
Pressler had resigned at the university’s request, and the parties signed a settlement agreement and release.
Duke said Pressler’s claims must be submitted to arbitration according to the contract, but Pressler countered that the settlement agreement voids that obligation. The trial court sided with Pressler, and the appeals court upheld the decision.
“The parties clearly stated their mutual intent that the mutual release fully and finally resolve their disputes and that all earlier agreements be canceled,” Calabria wrote.