School Wins Hearing on Duty to Defend Coach

     (CN) – A New York school district might not be obligated to defend a coach whose police statement led to the arrest of a parent he argued with at a baseball game, an appellate division of state Supreme Court ruled.

     John Matyas had an altercation with a parent, who was later acquitted of the criminal charge against him. The parent then sued for malicious prosecution.
     Matyas filed a petition under the Education Law for the school district to defend him. The trial court agreed that the school had a duty to defend him, because the incident arose out of his duties as a coach.
     The school district appealed, arguing that Matyas pressed criminal charges without consulting school personnel. The school district produced affidavits to support its argument that Matyas was discouraged from pressing charges.
     Matyas replied that he was never informed that he should not press charges and that several administrators supported his decision on the day following the incident.
     With this much doubt, Justice Rose of the Albany-based appellate division reversed the lower court’s decision.
     “Inasmuch as there are material questions of fact as to whether respondent’s determination has a rational basis,” Rose wrote, “a hearing is necessary.”

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