Lawyers representing all of the parties involved in the Bernie Fine and Laurie Fine lawsuits have asked a federal judge to consolidate the two cases during the ongoing pre-trial phase.
In a legal request sent to the United States Magistrate Judge David Peebles the group of attorneys reveals to the judge it is in agreement that consolidation before the trial can make the discovery and pre-trial phase more efficient. The attorneys are clear in telling the judge they are not agreeing to combining both cases should they ultimately come to trial.
The Laurie Fine case will become the lead case because it was filed first. Any of the parties can still file papers specifically on behalf of each client. Laurie Fine is suing ESPN, reporter Mark Schwarz and producer Arthur Berko. Bernie Fine is suing ESPN exclusively for a named amount of $11 million.
Nathan Siegel, representing ESPN, Schwarz and Berko, Lawrence Fisher, representing Laurie Fine, and Richard Sullivan, representing Bernie Fine all signed the letter to Judge Peebles. Peebles has not ruled on the request.
The U.S. Magistrate has scheduled an initial court hearing for July 18th where a schedule for the legal action will be considered.
Bernie Fine was the long time head assistant for Hall of Fame basketball coach Jim Boeheim. Fine is claiming ESPN defamed him in November of 2011 when it reported on accusations by former team ball boy Bobby Davis that Fine has sexually abused Davis.