The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Fired Lansdale Coach Charged in Sex Abuse Hoax; Defamation Liability?

What do you do after you've been fired from a job where you worked hard and felt that it was not recognized? You usually get drinks with friends, complain about the employer, apply for unemployment, and start looking for a new job.

Reportedly, that is not what Tim Udinski, the fired Lansdale coach, did once he was dismissed from his position as the Lansdale Catholic High School's lacrosse coach for a one year. Instead, Udinski wanted to use the recent Sandusky and priest trials as fodder to smear the football coach, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

While Udinski faces criminal charges, he could be hit with a civil lawsuit by football coach Jim Alego for defamation.

Defamation is the theory of law that lets you recover money when someone has made a statement that damages your reputation. Defamatory statements are broken into two categories, "libel," or a written defamatory statement, and "slander," a spoken defamatory statement.

To recover for defamation, you must show that someone published a false statement to a third person that caused injury to your reputation. The law uses the word "publication" but it only means that the statement was made. For example, if your (now ex) friend told your boss that you were sleeping with the boss' wife and you were fired, then that would be a publication even though the information was only heard by one person.

This example with the boss also illustrates the type of injury that defamation is supposed to correct. Damage to your reputation that would lose you your job would be sure to give the jury a good reason to award you some cash.

Which brings us to Mr. Udinski. He admitted to publishing false statements about football coach Alego's alleged sexual abuse of a student, according to the Inquirer. While it was not reported what effects the statements had on Alego, considering the public's reaction to the Sandusky case, the statements are sure to have had an effect on anyone that heard them.

Therefore, if Alego so desired, he likely has a strong case for defamation against Udinski because the statement was false, Udinski knew it was false, it was published to school administration, and it likely caused Alego reputational harm.

As angry as you might be for being fired or let go, do not follow the example of fired Lansdale coach Tim Udinski, who could be in for both criminal and civil penalties for his actions.

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