Judge to decide on Rude’s lawsuit

Published 9:30 am Thursday, March 11, 2010

A judge has 90 days to decide whether ex-school board member Curt Rude may carry on with his lawsuit.

Austin Public Schools asked Judge Fred Wellman Wednesday to dismiss Rude’s defamation suit filed against Austin Public Schools and former superintendent Candace Raskin — arguing that the suit was improperly served and violates state law.

Rude brought the six-count suit in November, alleging that statements made by Raskin, dating back to November of 2007, were defamatory and damaging. The complaint also specifically targets the district, with counts for vicarious liability and negligent retention and supervision of Raskin.

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School district special counsel Margaret Skelton argued Wednesday that Rude’s suit should be dismissed because it was served to the human resources office, rather than to a school board member as required by law; and that the suit, demanding money damages in excess of $50,000, is a conflict of interest in violation of state statute, as Rude was on the board when the suit was served.

Rude was voted off of the school board Monday, in part because his colleagues decided a conflict of interest stemmed from the suit.

However, “the conflict still remains,” Skelton argued Wednesday.

Rude’s lawyer, Andrea Niesen, asked the judge to accept amendments to the suit, striking all allegations against APS.

“It was never my intention to sue the school district,” Rude, who was not present at the hearing, said Tuesday.

The school district maintained that because not one count in the original complaint is against Raskin individually and because Raskin was acting in her official capacity when the alleged acts of defamation occurred, the school district cannot be removed from the complaint.

“Curt Rude chose to sue the school district instead of Dr. Raskin individually, presumably because of the deep pockets of the school district,” Skelton said.