"The only wall of silence erected in this tragedy was Brodhead's."
Charles Cooper, lawyer for the 38 lacrosse players now collectively suing Duke University, held a press conference today to announce the filing of their lawsuit against both Duke and Durham. They have created a website, www.dukelawsuit.com, to keep individuals informed about the status of the suit.
We will begin another series breaking down this 225 page lawsuit shortly, in addition to finishing up the Lawsuit Breakdown series on the Ekstrand Lawsuit.
There seem to already be clear differences between the two lawsuits. Ekstrand seems to have adopted a somewhat more aggressive strategy early on while Cooper seems to be approaching the suit a more cautiously. It will be interesting to see how these potentially complementary approaches play out. It is interesting that most of the significant facts alleged in each lawsuit are the same, corroborating each suit.
Also noteworthy is that Ekstrand's lawsuit carries an interesting focus on Chairman of the Board of Trustees Bob Steel and seems to place him as the lead decision maker. In contrast, Cooper's lawsuit places the blame primarily on the shoulders of President Richard Brodhead. Both suits, however, place heaping blame upon the duo for the suppression of evidence and other efforts to interfere with the team's pursuit of justice, so there is plenty to go around.
However, at this time, Bob Steel's name is noticeably absent from the list of defendants in the Cooper lawsuit.
The most significant difference between the Ekstrand and Cooper lawsuits consists not of factual assertions but of the allegations. Ekstrand repeatedly levels accusations of an active "conspiracy" involving Duke officials whereas Cooper's lawsuit is much more cautious in using that word. Perhaps time will show how these lawsuits evolve as they are modified and amended in the coming months.