A Washington federal judge today dismissed (PDF) a lawsuit that had accused American University officials of mistreating a former star wrestler and reneging on an oral agreement to give him a full four-year scholarship.
Finding that Adam LoPiccolo failed to file his lawsuit within the three-year statute of limitations, U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson dismissed the case against the university and LoPiccolo's former coach, Mark Cody.
LoPiccolo claimed that the university recruited him under the guise of the full scholarship, only to pressure him into signing a reduced agreement after two years. The complaint also accused Cody of mistreating LoPiccolo and threatening to revoke his scholarship if he complained.
In June 2010, LoPiccolo first filed suit against the university in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging breach of contract. In May, a Philadelphia federal judge transferred the case to Washington.
Jackson wrote that because LoPiccolo first learned that his scholarship would not be renewed in January 2007, he had until January 2010 to file a timely lawsuit. By filing in June of that year, she wrote, the door had closed.
“Even in cases where a plaintiff files an appeal challenging the decision, the statute of limitations begins to run at the time of the alleged breach and not after the conclusion of the appeals,” she wrote.
A spokesperson for American University was not immediately available for comment. The university was represented by attorneys from Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin in Philadelphia. An attorney for Cody, Jason Garber of Reger Rizzo & Darnall in Towson, Md., said Jackson “correctly decided that the complaint was untimely.” Robert Foster of the firm’s Philadelphia office also represented Cody.
An attorney for LoPiccolo could not immediately be reached. He was represented by Ellen Flynn and M. Celeste Bruce of Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver in Bethesda, Md.
Jackson did not address the merits of LoPiccolo’s lawsuit. The university had denied any wrongdoing. The judge granted LoPiccolo time to file an amended complaint, but wrote that, “A motion for amend may be of dubious utility given the fact that plaintiff was on actual notice of both his removal from the team and the revocation of his scholarship as of January 29, 2007, at the latest.”