Sports reporter sued basketball coach over outburst
NEW JERSEY–A (Newark) Star-Ledger basketball reporter filed suit in mid-July against New Jersey Nets coach John Calipari, charging that the coach’s insults and threat of attack in a March incident constituted assault and intentional infliction of emotion distress. The civil suit, filed in Superior Court in Paterson, N.J., also accuses the Nets organization of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The lawsuit followed a March incident in which Calipari confronted reporter Dan Garcia, who had covered the Nets for nine years, in a parking lot after a Nets practice. According to Garcia’s complaint, the coach yelled to Garcia, who stood with other reporters, “You fucking Mexican idiot.” During that outburst, the complaint alleges, Calipari threatened to punch Garcia in the face.
After the encounter was reported in the media, Calipari and the Nets issued an apology and the National Basketball Association fined Calipari $25,000.
Garcia seeks compensatory and punitive damages, without naming a dollar amount, but his lawyer Kenneth McElwee said similar cases have resulted in $5 million awards.
The suit claims Calipari was an “unsuitable spokesperson” and was “likely to become enraged at any reporter covering the Nets losing basketball season.”
The lawsuit followed the breakdown of settlement negotiations between Garcia and the Nets, McElwee said, in which Garcia requested a $1 million settlement. In a written statement, Nets President Michael Rowe called the legal action “an opportunistic ploy to extract money for no legal reason.”
Garcia is no longer covering the Nets basketball beat. (Garcia v. Calipari; Media Counsel: Kenneth McElwee, Newark)