College requests more time to respond to second lawsuit

by Christina Jedra / Beacon Staff • February 26, 2015

Lawyers for Emerson College and six administrators have asked for additional time to answer a second lawsuit filed by a student who alleges the school mishandled her rape case.

In the motion filed Feb. 23, Paul G. Lannon, Jr.—one of the college’s laywers—wrote that the defendants need until March 17 to “prepare a proper response” to the 25-page lawsuit complaint.

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 31 with the U.S. District Court in Springfield, was filed by an anonymous student, identified as Jane Doe, who alleges the college failed to “promptly and appropriately” respond to her assault, according to the complaint.

Doe’s lawsuit names, as defendants, President M. Lee Pelton; Ronald Ludman, the dean of students; David Haden, former director of housing and residence life; former Residence Director Danielle Mastronardi; and Title IX investigators Kimberly Marcella and Michael Arno.

In August, a separate lawsuit was filed against Emerson by former student Jillian Doherty, who also names the college, Pelton, Ludman, Haden, and Arno as defendants. Haden and Mastronardi both left the college in January, according to their LinkedIn accounts.

The defendants, including those who no longer work for Emerson, are represented by Lannon and Katrina N. Chapman of the law firm Holland & Knight for both cases, according to Christine Hughes, vice president and general counsel for Emerson.  

Andrew Tiedemann, vice president of communications, said in an email statement that the college has no comment regarding the Doe lawsuit.

“Emerson's policy, in the interests of privacy, is not to discuss individual personnel matters,” he wrote.