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Home / Special Sections / Attorneys of the Year / 2022 Attorneys of the Year: Nathan C. McGuire v. Julie A. Bowlin
From left: Donald Chance Mark Jr., David E. Runck and Sharon Van Dyck
From left: Donald Chance Mark Jr., David E. Runck and Sharon Van Dyck

2022 Attorneys of the Year: Nathan C. McGuire v. Julie A. Bowlin

When Nathan McGuire was named varsity girls basketball coach at Woodbury High School in 2013, it was affirmation of his success coaching at a smaller private school. Unfortunately, the promotion turned into a nightmare of false accusations against McGuire by a disgruntled parent, which led to him being suspended by the school district before he even completed his first season.

While an investigation by the school district ultimately cleared McGuire of the accusations of being aggressive and manipulative to his players, he was never reinstated as head coach and was unable to get any coaching job in the district.

McGuire’s lawsuit against the school district was dismissed, but a separate defamation lawsuit against the mother who initiated the false accusations wound through the courts for more than seven years. Last summer, when the defamation case was ready to begin trial, the defendant-parent agreed to pay $50,000 to settle. The defendant also agreed to sign a lengthy document admitting that her accusations were untrue. Finally, she agreed that if she defaulted in paying $50,000, judgment would be entered against her for $350,000.

The settlement amount is a fraction of the financial impact the ordeal caused the coach, but the defendant had declared bankruptcy multiple times and there was no way to recover a more substantial settlement, according to McGuire’s lawyer, Donald Chance Mark Jr. He led a team of attorneys that included David Runck, Sharon Van Dyck and Brad Hunter. The larger victory is the warning the decision provides to parents who get overly aggressive with youth sports coaches.

“The coaching community is grateful to Nathan because he took this on,” said Mark. He heard from coaches as far away as New Mexico thanking him for helping McGuire stand up to the false accusations.

“Parents are different than they used to be, in terms of involvement with their children’s athletic careers,” Mark said. “This is an extreme version of an overzealous parent, but there are enough examples of parents who have unrealistic views of their children’s athletic abilities to justify coaches protecting themselves and their programs. This case highlighted the problems that exist. If you’re going to take coaches on and defame them, there are potential repercussions.”

Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2022 here.

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