May 28, 2023
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Judge denies CLU’s attempt to dismiss Gallegly’s lawsuit


A Ventura County Superior Court judge on March 2 rejected an attempt by California Lutheran University to dismiss a case alleging breach of contract and problems with the funding and establishment of an on-campus public service center named after former U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly.

Judge Henry Walsh issued a tentative oral ruling on March 1 and made a final written ruling on March 2. CLU had argued that Gallegly did not have standing to bring the lawsuit. Walsh’s ruling disagreed, and clears the way for the case to proceed.

Matthew Burris of Novus Law Firm, an attorney representing California Lutheran in the case, said in a statement to the Business Times that “while we understand that courts can be reluctant to dismiss cases at the early stages of litigation, we are disappointed with this ruling.”

“From our investigation into the matter, California Lutheran University has, and will continue to, meet its obligations to former Rep. Gallegly,” Burris said. “We remain confident that the court will reach the same conclusion when it hears the evidence in this case.”

In a statement, Gallegly called the ruling “a significant victory” and “an important step in reestablishing the Elton and Janice Gallegly Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement.”

The former congressman filed a lawsuit in November, accusing CLU of breach of contract for reportedly failing to fully establish the Elton and Janice Gallegly Center For Public Service and Civic Engagement. The suit alleges problems with the funding and establishment of the center, including insufficient university support, a lack of financial transparency, and a lack of progress in archiving Gallegly’s papers.

Gallegly and his wife raised more than $1 million in funding for the on-campus center, according to the lawsuit.  

The suit names the university itself as a defendant, along with current CLU President Lori Varlotta and Chris Kimball, who was CLU president from 2008 to 2020.

The Gallegly Center opened at CLU’s Pearson Library in 2018. It included a replica of Gallegly’s congressional office, but that display was removed earlier this year. The university said it will use the space for the archive of Gallegly’s papers.