A California high school basketball coach has filed a libel lawsuit for more than $1 million against a parent, according to The Ventura County Star.
Rob Bloom, the varsity boys basketball coach at Westlake High School in Westlake Village, Calif., claims in the suit that a parent of one of the team's players has a "personal vendetta" against the coach.
The parent, James Clark, is accused in the lawsuit of making "malicious" and libelous statements in emails sent to the coach, school district officials and fellow parents.
The lawsuit alleges that Clark was unhappy with how Bloom used his son, who joined the varsity team in 2011, according to the report. Bloom's suit also alleges that Clark called for the coach to be fired.
"By the middle of January 2013, it was apparent that Clark was on a personal ‘mission' to destroy and defame Bloom," according to the suit. "Clark was spending hours investigating Bloom in an attempt to discredit Bloom. Clark circulated emails accusing Bloom of personally and willfully violating child labor laws.
"Clark's emails were vicious, personal and ugly and were intended to destroy Bloom."
Clark told The Ventura County Star that Bloom mistreated players and that he was disappointed Bloom had resorted to a lawsuit. Clark has accused Bloom of taking advantage of players in his "on-campus business activities," including nonprofit sports programming on campus.
In a June letter to the editor published on VCStar.com, Clark decried walk-on coaches for "[setting] up fake nonprofit sports camps tied to campus to make significant personal profit while luring incoming athletes to illegally underpaid camp counselor positions." Clark did not name any names in his letter.
Clark also rejected the lawsuit's claim that he was trying to bring down the coach because he was upset with his son's playing time.
Bloom's attorney, James P. Thompson, told The Ventura County Star that the coach was tired of Clark's attempts to ruin his reputation.
"This was the tip of the spear of helicopter parenting," Thompson said, according to the report. "There is a vast difference between thinking a coach is doing something wrong and calling a coach a crook and child abuser. It's egregious. (Clark) was asked to stop, and he wouldn't, so this is the result."
- Stanley Kay