An attorney representing Temple University has filed a transfer petition at
the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia that seeks to have a federal judge take jurisdiction over a case originally filed in state court that involves a former college athlete who is seeking $10 million over allegations that she experienced discriminatory treatment while on the team and was ultimately tossed off the team.
Early last month, Ebony N. Moore, who now resides in Lawrenceville, GA, filed suit in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas alleging she experienced harassment, gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at the hands of the head coach, Eric Mobley, and Assistant Athletic Director Kristen Foley, as well as others.
Both Mobley and Foley are named as individual defendants in the lawsuit.
The plaintiff, who had become the university’s all-time discus record-holder and was the only member of the team to qualify for post-seasonal track and field meets, claims that Temple University knew or should have known that the “ill treatment, exclusion, badgering and unfair treatment” of Moore would result in “some sort of highly deleterious effect upon the mental health and well-being of the Plaintiff.”
The suit also takes issue with the plaintiff’s removal from the team, a decision that was overturned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which determined that Moore never violated any institutional or team rule.
Despite the NCAA finding Temple at fault during a July 28, 2011, panel hearing, Moore was nevertheless unfairly dismissed from the track and field team, the lawsuit states.
The complaint accuses the Philadelphia-based university of failing to exercise proper governance and allowing an unfit individual to be in charge of the livelihood of the plaintiff.
The suit says that the defendants allowed the plaintiff to be verbally abused and bullied by coaching staff and teammates without reprimand or action.
Moore also maintains that Mobley, the team’s head coach, knowingly allowed the plaintiff to be sexually harassed by teammates and staff after being notified of unacceptable behavior against her.
The defendant also ignored Moore’s warnings that his coaching style was causing her distress.
Moore even claims her hair fell out and she experienced visible panic attacks during team bus rides.
According to the lawsuit, Moore was even publicly embarrassed and verbally abused to the point where she suffered a mental breakdown in an episode where she destroyed her dorm room, dismantled the safety screen on the room’s window and attempted to commit suicide by jumping from the window.
Moore was eventually informed that she would no longer be allowed to compete in track and field with Mobley as the head coach.
“Instead of reprimanding the Defendant, the Plaintiff was no longer allowed to further her athletic career due to the University deeming the interaction ‘too toxic,’” the complaint reads.
The suit says that Moore has since been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and currently remains on various medications to treat her condition.
“The Plaintiff planned on competing in future Olympics, becoming an endorsed athlete and garnering many awards as a result of her participation in track and field,” the complaint states. “The previously stated goals were shattered due to the actions of the Defendants.”
Moore filed the complaint pro se.
In the removal notice, attorney James Bucci, of the Philadelphia firm Genova Burns Giantomasi Webster LLC, wrote that Moore alleges facts that attempt to state a claim under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which has to do with discrimination on the basis of gender.
While the defendants continue to deny the allegations and any liability, Bucci wrote, the university and the others contend the litigation should play out in federal court because Temple University is a recipient of federal dollars and as such is subject to Title IX.
The federal courts have jurisdiction over such complaints, the defense lawyer wrote.
The federal case number is 2:13-cv-05079-MSG.