Judge denies motion for dismissal
CARSON CITY, Nev. -- A Nevada judge denied motions by lawyers for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to dismiss a civil lawsuit alleging he raped a Lake Tahoe casino worker, according to court documents released Wednesday.
Washoe District Judge Brent Adams rejected arguments that the suit should be dismissed, saying Andrea McNulty's allegations make a "sufficient" claim that if proven, would entitle her to relief.
"The court recognizes that a motion to dismiss is only proper where it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff could prove no set of facts which, if true, would entitle them to relief," Adams wrote in the order filed late Tuesday.
Adams also refused to strike McNulty's complaint, finding that as written, it is not "unnecessarily salacious or graphic," as argued by Roethlisberger's lawyers.
In other brief orders, the judge also rejected arguments that the suit should be dismissed because it failed to name an "indispensable party" -- that being Harrah's Hotel-Casino -- and denied Roethlisberger's request to expedite discovery, or the sharing of evidence.
Roethlisberger's lawyer David Cornwell said that despite the outcome, his team was encouraged by the judge's reasoning.
"Finding that plaintiff survived this round because of a generous 'beyond doubt' standard indicates that, at these early stages, the court is inclined to give plaintiff her day in court," Cornwell said in a written statement. "Of course, this cuts both ways.
"In any event, her allegations remain false and we remain committed to a vigorous defense."
Cal Dunlap, McNulty's lawyer, has repeatedly declined comment on court filings and did so on Wednesday.
McNulty, a 31-year-old VIP hostess at Harrah's, filed a civil suit in July, alleging Roethlisberger sexually assaulted her while he was at Lake Tahoe the previous summer to compete in a celebrity golf tournament. The suit claimed she was hospitalized for several months because she was traumatized after the alleged attack.
The suit seeks a minimum $440,000 in damages from Roethlisberger, unspecified punitive damages and at least $50,000 in damages from eight Harrah's officials she accuses of orchestrating a cover-up of the incident.
In a separate order, the judge dismissed a claim of trespass against former Harrah's employee Stacy Dingman, identified in McNulty's suit as once being her best friend.
Adams said a more definitive statement is needed for McNulty to pursue conspiracy allegations against Dingman, but he left intact other claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, defamation and punitive damages.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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