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Mediation talks set for Mater Dei-CIF lawsuit

August 26, 2011 | 10:24 am

One month before the scheduled start of a jury trial in the lawsuit filed by Santa Ana Mater Dei and the Roman Catholic diocese of Orange against the CIF Southern Section, attorneys have agreed to begin mediation talks next week in an attempt to resolve the case.

Edward J. Wallin, a retired justice of the California Court of Appeal, has been chosen as the mediator, with a meeting scheduled for Friday, the same day that Mater Dei opens its football season against Carson.

The CIF filed an application with Judge Gregory H. Lewis on Friday to postpone the trial until February, and it was granted.

Mater Dei attorneys first suggested mediation last November, but it was rejected by the Southern Section. Then, last month, as both sides were preparing to begin depositions of top figures in the lawsuit, attorneys for the state CIF requested Mater Dei's counsel to participate in mediation.

The Southern Section's new commissioner, Rob Wigod, will be involved in the mediation talks.

Mater Dei sought legal action last year after alleging that the recently retired Southern Section Commissioner, Jim Staunton, had shown bias toward its student athletes and that the Southern Section had acted in a “discriminatory manner” in how rules are enforced and applied toward its student athletes.

A jury trial was set to begin on Oct. 3 in Orange County Superior Court. Mater Dei has asked for clarification on a controversial CIF rule that bars athletes from transferring for sports reasons.

-- Eric Sondheimer

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