RWL Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Baltimore Basketball Legend, Keith Booth To Defend His Name
Barry L. Gogel and Marilee L. Miller of the law firm of Rifkin, Weiner, Livingston, LLC, filed suit today in Baltimore federal court against the Baltimore City School District School Board and several of its employees for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of their client, Keith E. Booth II, when he was suddenly and wrongfully fired last February.
The suit further alleges that the violations occurred due to the School Board’s negligent hiring of a disgraced principal from Washington, D.C. While there, this principal was found to have violated applicable policies and regulations; failed to appropriately train educators; and intimidated educators to perform their duties in an improper and inappropriate manner. Such conduct is, the complaint further alleges, the same conduct that injured Booth here.
Booth is formerly the head coach of the boys’ basketball team at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in East Baltimore. Having played high school basketball at Dunbar and leading it to a championship, Booth went on to star for the University of Maryland’s basketball team. He won an NBA Championship with the Chicago Bulls, which is the subject of the recent ESPN documentary “The Last Dance.”
The suit is an effort to clear the alleged stigma that was imposed when Booth was suddenly and wrongfully fired from his position as head coach. When Booth was fired, school officials allegedly circulated a defamatory letter to the basketball team, the Dunbar community, and members of an electronic list-serve. According to the Complaint, the letter has been read to accuse Coach Booth falsely of committing “heinous acts.” Coach Booth has been denied the opportunity to learn if there are any charges against him or clear his name, the complaint further alleges.
Noting that “it takes a lifetime to earn the respect of your peers and a moment to see it evaporate,” the Complaint describes how Booth rose from the Dunbar playing ranks to win an NBA championship before becoming a college and high school basketball coach. In so doing, Booth worked hard to build a stellar reputation for himself as a player and as a person. At Dunbar, Coach Booth hoped to instill a student first program that “show opportunity, highlight possibility, and to teach the importance of study and discipline.” Those efforts terminated with his firing.
According to Gogel, “What has happened to this pillar in the Baltimore and Maryland community should never be allowed to happen to anyone. In now trying to resurrect his career, Coach Booth faces the stigma of having been falsely accused without any opportunity to clear his name.”
The lawsuit states causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivation of Booth’s federally-recognized liberty and property rights; defamation; and negligent hiring.