Samsel lawsuit set for trial

Former Olive Branch football coach Scott Samsel is shown with one of his players in this file photo. Samsel's civil lawsuit against school principal Allyson Killough and the DeSoto County School District in U.S. District Court is slated to go to trial on Jan. 9, 2017 in Oxford. 

The civil lawsuit filed by former Olive Branch High School football coach Scott Samsel against the DeSoto County School District and individuals, now dating back more than two years, will be going to a jury trial next year. 

Court information from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi in Oxford states a jury trial will begin Jan. 9 at the Federal Courthouse in Oxford before Judge Michael Mills.

Samsel is seeking compensation for damages he claimed took place with his dismissal as Olive Branch football coach shortly after Allyson Killough was installed as new school principal.

Samuel seeks actual and liquidated damages from the DeSoto County School District and actual and punitive damages from Killough and three unnamed defendants from the jury. The original suit also sought his re-instatement as football coach and recovery of attorney fees and expenses.

The school district has denied any wrongdoing or violations of federal and state law as claimed in the court action.

Killough dismissed Samsel as coach and athletic director during the 2013-14 school year, citing a desire to move the program in a new direction, and replaced him as football coach with Jeremy Toungett, who coached the Conquistadors one season before also being fired. Steve Buckley spent last season as coach before taking a job in the junior college ranks and Pete Hurt is now in charge of the Quistors’ football program for the coming season.

Samuel claimed at the time his First Amendment rights had been violated and claimed age discrimination. He did not follow through on an assignment to an alternative school in Horn Lake, citing anxiety, stress, elevated blood pressure. He also claimed his reputation in the community was harmed by the chain of events.

Samsel’s 2011 Olive Branch football team went unbeaten at 15-0 to win the MHSAA 6A state championship. This past season, he was football coach and Director of Athletic Development at St. Benedict’s at Auburndale in Cordova, Tenn., where his Eagles fashioned a record of 3-8. He resigned that post in April, citing personal reasons for his departure.

Samuel is being represented by the Waide and Associates law firm in Tupelo. The school district, Killough and former Supt. Milton Kuykendall, along with the three unnamed defendants, are being represented by attorneys with the Butler Snow law firm in Memphis, Tenn.

Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6297 ext. 240.

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