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Seton Hill asks federal judge to dismiss suit by former field hockey players

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By Richard Gazarik
Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 11:09 a.m.
 

A federal judge will decide whether abuse, rather than coaching style, is the central issue in a lawsuit filed by two former field hockey players against Seton Hill University.

Attorneys for the liberal arts school have asked a judge to dismiss the complaint or force the plaintiffs to refile the lawsuit and be more specific in their allegations, according to a motion filed in federal court in Pittsburgh.

Shannon Litvin of Long Island, N.Y., and Lauren Schumacher of Patuxent, Md., allege they were verbally and physically abused by field hockey coaches during their time on the team, according to a suit.

Named as defendants are: head coach Whitney Harness and assistants Gillian Hilbert and Joanna Pichardo; then-acting university President Bibiano Boerio; athletic director Christopher Snyder; NCAA compliance officer Bruce Ivory; Title IX compliance officer Darlene Sauers; and Vice President of Affirmative Action Lois Sculco.

The women allege administrators failed to do anything about the alleged abuse, according to the suit.

Livtin said she was discriminated against because she has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, but the attorney for the university said Litvin wasn't diagnosed with the disability until after she quit the team in 2013.

Attorney Paul Mazeski of Pittsburgh, who represents Seton Hill, said the allegations are that the coaches “yelled,” “mocked,” and “punished” the women with additional physical conditioning.

“Simply put, the alleged conduct complained of by the plaintiffs falls well short of any actionable claim,” he wrote.

The allegations, he continued, “do not rise to the requisite level of atrocity, nor does she allege a physical injury.”

Mazeski wants a judge to either dismiss the suit or force the plaintiffs to file a more specific complaint.

The suit alleges that the women were subjected to humiliation and excessive training, which the suit contends is a violation of NCAA rules.

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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