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Cal U. trial bogged down by documents

| Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013,
Tribune-Review
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and members of its Board of Governors have asked a federal judge in Harrisburg to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former California University of Pennsylvania President Angelo Armenti Jr. File photo

The trial in the lawsuit filed by ousted California University of Pennsylvania president Angelo Armenti against the State System of Higher Education will be delayed until next summer so both sides can review more than 300 million pages of documents in the case, according to a court filing.

Federal Judge John E. Jones III had scheduled the trial to begin in February, but attorneys asked for a delay because of the volume of material that must be reviewed.

Last October, Armenti sued the system, its former chancellor, John Cavanaugh; former state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis; and the system's board of governors, Guido Picchini, Marie Conley and Ron Henry, alleging they conspired to deprive him of his civil rights when he was abruptly fired in May 2012. The suit names university Professor Michael Slavin, president of the school's faculty union.

Armenti was dismissed following months of criticism by faculty members who claimed his free-spending ways had plunged the school deeply into debt and harmed academic programs. In addition, a state audit was highly critical of Armenti's handling of school finances.

Armenti maintains he was fired because he filed a complaint against Cavanaugh, claiming he interfered in the longtime president's management of the school.

Bruce Antkowiak, a former federal prosecutor and professor of criminology and law at St. Vincent College near Latrobe, said while the volume of documents in Armenti's case is large, the introduction of electronic documents — emails in particular — into court proceedings makes it a more frequent occurrence.

“Documents running into that number are more common. In this day and age, I don't think that will be out of the question,” Antkowiak said.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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