Calif. judge throws out coach’s lawsuit against parent

A lawsuit filed by a California high school basketball coach accusing a parent of libel has been dismissed, according to the Los Angeles Times.

BasketballHoopWestlake High School coach Robert Bloom filed the lawsuit last year after the parent of a former player publicly called him a child abuser and tax evader. The judge ruled that the parent, James Clark, was exercising his right to free speech. The $1 million civil suit accused Clark of trying to ruin the coach’s life by sending derogatory emails about him to school and community members.

From the L.A. Times:

Bloom became head varsity basketball coach at Westlake High in 2011-12 and steered the team to two Marmonte League championships during the next two years, according to the Maxpreps sports website. But Clark alleged in emails to school officials and others that the coach evaded taxes and violated child labor laws in connection with his nonprofit Westlake Sports Camp he ran on rented school facilities.

The camp reportedly has shut down.

Clark also alleged that Bloom swore at his players and called them derogatory names, such as “worthless” and “loser.” In a previous interview with The Times, the coach’s attorney, Thompson, acknowledged one such occasion but said Bloom had apologized for it.

In his civil lawsuit, the coach alleged that Clark knew “his claims related to Westlake Sports Camp are phony and meant to defame, damage and destroy” his professional reputation. He also said that Clark “has the right to be a jerk,” but crossed the line when he publicly called him a fraud, cheat, tax evader, crook and child abuser.

The judge said that previous court decisions have found that complaints against government officials were “designed to provide the utmost freedom of communication between citizens and public authorities whose responsibility is to investigate wrongdoing,” according to the article.

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