Saturday, March 05, 2005

PSU wins round one

Centre Daily Times (State College, PA)
Copyright 2005 Centre Daily Times

March 5, 2005

Judge won't block law school plan

By Martha Raffaele, The Associated Press

CARLISLE -- Penn State will be allowed to pursue its plan to build a second law school campus pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by three Dickinson School of Law board members who oppose the plan, a judge ruled Friday.

Cumberland County Common Pleas Judge Edward E. Guido denied the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction to block the plan, and he advised both sides that he would schedule a trial in May.

Charles W. Rubendall II, an attorney for the plaintiffs, argued that the injunction was necessary because, among other things, the plan to build a campus at University Park calls for the dissolution of the law school's board by August.

"The law school's governance has been put in limbo. ... it's just there," Rubendall said.

But Guido countered that an expedited trial would adequately resolve the case before any construction could begin on the second campus.

"Why do we need a preliminary injunction now, as long as ground isn't broken?" Guido asked.

The plaintiffs -- Leslie Anne Miller, Gov. Ed Rendell's former general counsel; her father, lawyer G. Thomas Miller; and emeritus board member Tom Monteverde -- filed their lawsuit Feb. 3. They were among the dissenters when Dickinson's board voted 17-14 to accept Penn State's proposal on Jan. 15.

Penn State and Dickinson merged beginning in 1997, and the lawsuit alleges that the two-campus plan would "unilaterally terminate" a deal that required Penn State to keep the law school permanently in Carlisle and maintain it as the primary location.

The plan calls for Penn State to keep the Carlisle campus open for at least 10 years while it develops the University Park site. Rendell wants Penn State to extend its commitment to Carlisle but will not guarantee that the law school would remain there permanently.

Dickinson has been largely under Penn State's control since the merger was completed in 2000.

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