Former Band Leader’s Lawsuit Against OSU Dismissed in Court

The lawsuit had demanded $3 million from the university.

A former employee’s defamation lawsuit against Ohio State University was dismissed by a judge July 19.

Former OSU Marching Band Director Jonathan Waters had claimed that the university defamed him when they fired him after an investigation into the band’s “sexualized” culture in 2014.

After the investigation, university officials said Waters reasonably should have been aware of that culture and should have done more to change it, reports The Lantern.

RELATED: UO Pays Former Employees $425K in Settlement

Waters’ lawsuit claimed the university’s investigation was “incomplete, skewed, rife with material omissions and distorted more likely to appease the Department of Education than to afford basic fairness to Waters.”

But the State of Ohio Court of Claims dismissed those charges. A big part of that decision was the court’s conclusion that Waters was a limited-purpose public figure. In Ohio, that meant his defamation claim would have to prove OSU’s report included “actual malice,” meaning the school would’ve had to know the information was false and published it anyways.

In the court’s ruling it stated that it found no evidence that OSU officials “acted with knowledge that the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard as to their truth of falsity.”

Waters was seeking $3 million in damages ($1 million each for his three claims of defamation, slander and false light invasion of privacy). In April, Waters announced that he’d accepted a job as band director of Heidelberg University in Ohio.

Waters did not immediately comment on the ruling.

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