United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin
OPINION AND ORDER
STEPHEN L. CROCKER Magistrate Judge
William Wilson is the former athletic director and
women's basketball coach for Northland College, a small
private college in Ashland, Wisconsin. Wilson resigned in
April 2014 after Northland investigated him for two separate
sexual harassment complaints in the spring of 2013 and early
lawsuit arises from a series of radio broadcasts and
corresponding on-line stories run in May 2014 by Danielle
Kaeding, who was the program director at Northland's
college radio station. Wilson alleges that the stories, in
which Kaeding interviewed Wilson's accusers and reported
on the investigations, breached his Separation Agreement with
Northland that restricted what Northland could say about his
resignation in response to media inquiries. Wilson also has
brought claims for invasion of privacy under Wis.Stat. §
995.50(2)© and negligent supervision of its employee,
Kaeding. This court has jurisdiction pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
has moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Dkt. 24. I am granting this motion.
Wilson cannot state a plausible claim for invasion of privacy
because the matters on which Kaeding reported were public,
not private facts. His breach of contract claim fails because
he has failed to articulate a plausible theory of breach that
is tied to the language of the parties' agreement and the
contract's plain language does not support his claim.
Finally, Wilson's negligent supervision claim fails
because the only duty that Northland allegedly breached was
the duty to abide by the terms of the contract, which cannot
provide the basis for a tort claim.
following facts, which I accept as true for purposes of
deciding the instant motion, are drawn from the Amended
Complaint and documents and news broadcasts that Wilson
incorporated by reference.
William Wilson is a resident of the State of Kansas. Wilson
previously was employed by defendant Northland College as its
Head Women's Basketball Coach and Athletic Director. He
resigned in June 2014.
Northland College is a private post-secondary college with
its principal place of business located in Ashland,
Wisconsin. Defendant WRM America Insurance Company is
defendant's liability insurer and is located in
Uniondale, New York.
Plaintiff's Employment and Separation from
began working for Northland in August 2009 as the Head
Women's Basketball Coach and Assistant Athletic Director.
In 2011, he began jointly serving as the college's
Director of Athletics while continuing his role as the head
women's basketball coach. In the Fall of 2013, Wilson
became Northland's full-time Director of Athletics.
Wilson's employment by Northland, the school investigated
him twice in response to complaints. In the spring of 2013,
Northland investigated a complaint that Wilson had created a
hostile work environment by making inappropriate comments to
female employees. Northland concluded that there was
insufficient evidence to support a finding that Wilson had
created a hostile work environment.
February 27, 2014, Northland investigated a Title IX
complaint alleging that Wilson had engaged in discriminatory
treatment of female students on the women's basketball
team. On or about April 8, 2014, Northland informed Wilson
that, after investigating the complaint “and
considering the issues which have arisen in the past about
which you have full knowledge, ” Northland had decided
that it would be Wilson's final year as Athletic
about April 21, 2014, Wilson and Northland entered into a
“Separation Agreement and Release, ” signed by
Wilson and Northland's Director of Human Resources, Paul
Skoraczewski. Dec. of Robert Jackson, dkt. 26, Exh. A.
Paragraph 7 states::
Explanation of Departure and Non-Disparagement.
Northland and Wilson agree that they will jointly issue a
statement which may be in the form of a press release
indicating that Wilson is leaving his employment with
Northland effective June 30, 2014 to pursue other
opportunities. This statement must be issued by April 25,
2014 and the parties agree that they will work cooperatively
in preparing it. Wilson agrees that he will not orally or in
writing disparage Northland in general or any of its
officers, faculty members, staff, students, employees or
members of the Board of Trustees. To the extent that either
party is asked by a media source of any sort to provide an
additional explanation, both parties will state that the
mutually agreed upon statement speaks for itself.
Id. at ¶7.
Kaeding's News Stories
College owns and operates a public radio station, WNRC-97.7
FM. Danielle Kaeding was the station director and an employee
of defendant. On May 7, 8 and 9, 2014, Kaeding published
on-air and online news stories about Wilson that discussed
Northland's 2013 and 2014 investigations into
Wilson's alleged misconduct. The first on-line article
was titled “Northland College conducted two
investigations of former athletics director.” The
second article was titled “Title IX investigation took
place this spring.” The ...