The Daily Evergreen

Judge dismisses claims against Schulz, two others

Court will go forward with proceedings involving WSU, other administrators

IAN SMAY, Evergreen news editor

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The judge presiding over a lawsuit involving former WSU employee Darryl Riser’s claims of civil rights and whistleblower law violations dismissed the actions against three of the named defendants, including President Kirk Schulz.

Judge Thomas Rice filed the order on April 24. Rice said Riser “fails to state a claim against Defendants Kirk H. Schulz, Holly C. Ashkannejhad, and Teddi Ann Phares.”

Riser has the opportunity to change his claims to reflect a charge resulting in personal liability against the three, but if Riser fails to do so in 60 days the court will dismiss the claims, according to court documents. Riser may also choose to dismiss the claims. Rice also said Riser’s “allegations related to these defendants are limited to unadorned, conclusory allegations of retaliation, and breach of fiduciary (ethics) duties.”

Rice said Riser’s complaints about Ashkannejhad and Phares’ investigation into Riser’s concerns about ethics violations being biased referenced “Washington laws that do not establish personal liability.”

In the same ruling, Rice said the court will move forward in the proceedings against WSU, Don Holbrook, Brian Allan Dixon, and Randi N. Croyle. The judgement said Riser “has sufficiently pled that Defendants WSU, Holbrook, Dixon, and Croyle took retaliatory actions against [Riser] for his activity in attempting to expose alleged racial discrimination in the financial aid department.” The court will issue summons for each of the defendants to be served.

Riser asked for a total of over $9 million in damages in his original filing in early April. The claims in the filing ranged from ethics violations in different departments around the university, such as FERPA and OSHA infractions and discrimination in the school’s Student Financial Aid Department.

Riser was suspended on Jan. 5, which he claims violated his due process rights outline in the Fifth and 14th Amendments, as he did not receive a chance to appeal his suspension.

He also claimed the university acted in retaliation for his firing, which was due to what the university allegedly cited as issues with his performance at work. Riser thinks this came in response to him attempting to be a whistleblower on ethics concerns at WSU, he said in the suit.

Other parts of the original lawsuit alleged fraud by Holbrook and defamation, libel and slander claims against WSU and the intentional infliction of emotional distress by multiple parties. Riser also sought damages for “extreme and outrageous conduct.”

Riser made 24 claims in the original suit, with each claim against the university asking for at least $600,000 and each claim against an individual, including those now dismissed, at $300,000 or more each.

[pdf-embedder url=”https://dailyevergreen.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Dismissal.compressed.pdf”]

About the Writer
IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

Ian Smay is a senior journalism & media production major, with an emphasis in broadcast news, from Dayton, Washington. He is also minoring in criminal justice, and served as the crime & courts beat reporter from Aug. 2017 – May 2018. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Judge dismisses claims against Schulz, two others