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Mel Tucker's lawyers file to move text message lawsuit to federal court

FILE - Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker speaks during an NCAA college football news conference at the Big Ten Conference media days at Lucas Oil Stadium, Wednesday, July 26, 2023, in Indianapolis. Michigan State athletic director Alan Haller has informed suspended football coach Mel Tucker he is being fired for cause without compensation for his conduct with activist and rape survivor Brenda Tracy. “The notice provides Tucker with seven calendar days to respond and present reasons to me and the interim president as to why he should not be terminated for cause,” Haller said in a statement sent by the school on Monday, Sept. 18.(AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
Darron Cummings/AP
Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker speaks during an NCAA college football news conference at the Big Ten Conference media days at Lucas Oil Stadium, Wednesday, July 26, 2023.

Updated on October 18 at 12:43 a.m. ET

A lawsuit filed by Brenda Tracy, who accused Michigan State University football coach Mel Tucker of sexual harassment, is under federal court jurisdiction today. The question now is whether it will remain there.

On October 6, Tracy filed a lawsuit in Ingham County Circuit Court to block Tucker's legal team from releasing more of what she said are private text messages. The initial release of the messages occurred shortly before an MSU Title IX hearing on her claims of sexual misconduct. Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James Jamo granted an emergency temporary restraining order preventing Tucker's team from releasing further messages to the public.

On Monday, Tucker’s attorneys filed a request to move the case to federal court, because they said the complaint includes a claim alleging a violation of federal law.

That next day, Tracy’s legal team filed a motion to remand the case back down to state court jurisdiction. They also filed a motion to amend the complaint to remove the federal violation in question.

The legal shuffling began Tuesday morning, when a scheduled hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court was cancelled. The cancellation followed the request by Tucker’s legal team to move the case to the U.S. Western District of Michigan, a member of Tracy’s legal team Karen Truszkowski said. “That is because the opposing parties removed the case from state court to federal court, which they are allowed to do that, if they can show that the federal court has jurisdiction.”

That request moved the case to federal court. The motion by Tracy’s legal team may move it back to state court. Tucker's attorney has until 4 p.m. on Wednesday to respond to Tracy's motions.

The texts in question are allegedly between Brenda Tracy and Ahlan Alvarado, who worked as a case manager for Tracy and has been described as a close friend. She was killed in a car crash in June.

Tracy’s lawsuit names Alvarado’s husband, Tucker, and Tucker’s legal team as defendants. It claims the messages that Tucker’s attorneys released to the public were obtained without permission from Alvarado’s cell phone.

Tracy’s legal team claims the messages were of a sensitive nature.

“We had to file this because we wanted to make sure that confidential information that may be in that phone is not released,” said Truszkowski.

The emergency restraining order preventing Tracy's legal team from releasing further messages is set to expire on Friday.

At the publishing of this story Tucker’s team had not return a request for comment.

Corrected: October 18, 2023 at 11:05 AM EDT
A previous version of the story stated a decision from the U.S. Western District Court was expected on Wednesday afternoon. Instead a response from Tucker's attorneys is expected by Wednesday afternoon.
As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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