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Second Circuit Confirms That Former St. John's University Graduate Assistant Has No Viable Federal Claims

October 5, 2001

On October 1, 2001, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed on behalf of former St. John's University graduate assistant James Keady.

Keady claimed in the lawsuit that he was forced to resign from his position as a graduate assistant in the University's soccer program after the University agreed to accept funding and athletic uniforms from Nike. Keady criticized Nike's labor practices as inconsistent with the University's Catholic mission, and he declined to wear the trademark Nike "swoosh."

Keady's lawsuit included claims for violations of his federal civil rights, criminal conspiracy to deprive him of those rights, defamation, religious discrimination in violation of the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws, and breach of contract. All of his claims were dismissed by the lower court in September 2000; simultaneously, the court denied Keady's motion for leave to file an amended complaint adding several RICO claims.

On appeal, the Second Circuit agreed with the lower court's reasoning for dismissing all of Keady's federal claims: Keady's civil rights claims were merely conclusory, and he has no private right of action for alleged criminal conspiracy. The Court of Appeals also concurred with the lower court's denial of leave to amend the complaint. Finally, because it affirmed dismissal of all of the federal claims, the Second Circuit ordered that the state law claims be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.