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USUE renews request to dismiss cosmetology suit

By John Serfustini

The Utah Attorney General’s Office on Wednesday filed a memorandum in Seventh Judicial District Court supporting its earlier motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by four cosmetology instructors against USU Eastern and Chancellor Joe Peterson.
Judge George Harmond on April 28 had dismissed the case against two of the four defendants named in the complaint, the Carbon County Attorney’s office and Assistant County Attorney John E. Schindler.
The lawsuit arose last January when the professors alleged they had suffered mental anguish and fear after an outburst of temper by Price Mayor Joe Piccolo in December, 2014.  Piccolo was accused of screaming threats at them because his daughter had received a lower grade than he felt she deserved.
He was charged with a disorderly conduct infraction and agreed to a one-year plea in abeyance.
The professors thought the charge was too lenient. The county attorneys, however, stated that prosecutors in Utah have absolute discretion in what charges to file, except where discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin and the like can be shown. Judge Harmond agreed.
In the matter of the university and chancellor, though, the plaintiffs contend that they are harmed by a breach of implied contract to maintain a safe workplace. Piccolo was not banned from the campus. The attorney general’s latest memorandum basically relies on the Utah Governmental Immunity Act on the initial alleged assault, and further states that the plaintiffs have not shown a “reasonable probability” that future injury would occur.

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