A former Kennesaw State University cheerleader was awarded a $145,000 settlement two years after she faced rep-ercuss!ons for taking a knee during the national anthem at a college football game, court documents show.The former cheerleader, Tommia Dean, who is still a student at the Georgia university, received $93,000, and the remaining $52,000 was d!sbur-sed to her two lawyers, Bruce P. Brown and Randolph A. Mayer, for legal fees and expenses, according to the documents.
News of the settlement, which was paid in October, was published on Wednesday by The Marietta Daily Journal.
Ms. Dean, along with four other cheerleaders, took a knee during the national anthem at a football game on Sept.30, 2017, the lawsuit said. According to the complaint, they were then proh!bit-ed from appearing on the field during the national anthem at two subsequent home football games.
Ms. Dean filed the lawsuit in September 2018 against Samuel S. Olens, the school’s president at the time of the protest and a former Georgia attorney general; two men in the Kennesaw State athletic department; Sheriff Neil Warren of Cobb County, Ga.; and Earl Ehrhart, a former Republican state legislator.
The suit ac*use-d the defendants of v!olat-ing her First Amendment rights and accused Sheriff Warren and Mr.Ehrhart specifically of conspiring to ca*se the v!ola-tion of her civil rights by pressuring the university’s president to take act!on.
Ms. Dean, who claimed in the lawsuit that she had undergoes an increase in migraine headaches and emotional d!stress over the loss of her constitutional rights, sought unspecified da*ages.
Sheriff Warren and Mr. Ehrhart were d!smissed from the lawsuit in February, but Mr. Brown said an appeal of the decision to d!smiss the sheriff was underway.
“The appeal is important because it calls into question when private parties can be l!able under the civil rights laws of ca*sing a public official or conspiring with a public official to v!ola-te a citizen’s First Amendment rights,” Mr. Brown said.
This fall, Ms. Dean reached a settlement with the Georgia Department of Administrative Services, Mr. Brown said, and the $145,000 award was paid in October. The department did not immediately return a request for comment on Saturday.
The agreement was to “buy peace of mind from future cont-roversy and forestall” future lawyer fees, according to a copy of the settlement provided to The New York Times.
The agreement represents the “economic resolution of d!sputed cla!ms,” it says, but is not an “admission, finding, conclusion, evidence or indication for any purposes whatsoever, that the K.S.U. defendants or Ehrhart acted contrary to the law.”
The university was made aware of the case’s resolution, Tammy DeMel, Kennesaw State’s assistant vice president for communications, said in a statement on Saturday that noted the settlement did not involve the university.
It is not unusual for the government to pay da*age awards for civil rights v!olat-ions by public officials, Mr. Brown said.
Asked what message his client wanted to send with her lawsuit, Mr. Brown said, “Kneeling during the national anthem is respectful and a completely appropriate pro*est that should be protected by the university under the First Amendment. It should not be proh!bited or pun!shed, ever.”
This Article First Published On NYTIMES