Nathan C. McGuire, Appellant,
Julie A. Bowlin, Respondent, Thomas M. Bowlin, Defendant, Joy M. Szondy, Respondent, Chelon L. Danielson, Respondent, Cheryl Hewitt, Respondent.
of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts
L. Van Dyck, Van Dyck Law Firm, PLLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota;
and Donald Chance Mark, Jr., Tyler P. Brimmer, Fafinski Mark
& Johnson, P.A., Eden Prairie, Minnesota, for appellant.
Bowlin, Chanhassen, Minnesota, pro se.
M. Bowlin, Chanhassen, Minnesota, pro se.
T. Shern, Andrew T. Shern Law Office, PLLC, Saint Paul,
Minnesota, for respondent Joy M. Szondy.
L. Danielson, Woodbury, Minnesota, pro se.
Kirsten J. Hansen, Garth J. Unke, Stich Angell, P.A.,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent Cheryl Hewitt.
R. Bradford, Bassford Remele, P.A., Minneapolis, Minnesota,
for amicus curiae Minnesota State High School Coaches
Palmer, Jansen & Palmer, LLC, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for
amicus curiae National High School Basketball Coaches
high school basketball coach is not a public official under
the defamation standard of New York Times Co. v.
Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).
a party to be a limited-purpose public figure, a public
controversy must exist.
Issues that are neither appealed to the court of appeals nor
raised in a petition for further review are forfeited in an
appeal to the supreme court.
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964),
and its progeny, defamation plaintiffs who are "public
officials" or "public figures" can recover in
a defamation action only upon a showing of actual malice.
See id. at 283-84; Chafoulias v.
Peterson, 668 N.W.2d 642, 648-49 (Minn. 2003). In
this case, we must decide whether appellant Nathan McGuire, a
public high school basketball head coach, falls into either
of those categories. Having reviewed the undisputed facts
regarding McGuire's duties as coach and regarding the
lack of any controversy concerning his performance before the
allegedly defamatory statements were made, we conclude that
McGuire is neither a public official nor a public figure.
However, because McGuire did not appeal the district
court's conclusion that the statements of respondents Joy
Szondy, Chelon Danielson, and Cheryl Hewitt fall under a
qualified privilege, we nevertheless affirm summary judgment
as to those three respondents. Because the district court
granted summary judgment to respondent Julie Bowlin solely on
the basis of McGuire's status as a public official, we
reverse as to McGuire's defamation claim against her and
remand for further proceedings on that claim.
case comes before us following the district court's grant
of summary judgment against McGuire. Accordingly, we view the
evidence in the light most favorable to him. See Expose
v. Thad Wilderson & Assocs., P.A., 889 N.W.2d 279,
284 (Minn. 2016).
the fall of 2012 to the spring of 2014, McGuire was the head
coach of the girls' basketball program for Woodbury High
School. In that role, he oversaw five assistant coaches, made
strategic decisions, scheduled games and practices, and had
general oversight of the program.
McGuire was coaching at Woodbury, respondents, all of whom
were parents of players on the team, expressed concerns about
McGuire's conduct, most notably alleging that he swore at
practices, touched players in inappropriate ways,
flirted with players. In January 2014, these concerns
ultimately culminated in Bowlin, Szondy, and Hewitt meeting
with (and Danielson writing a letter to) school
administrators to discuss McGuire's conduct. Two days
after respondents met with the school administrators, McGuire
was placed on ...