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Former NC school headmaster allowed to continue lawsuit against author Nicholas Sparks

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 09: Novelist and Screenwriter Nicholas Sparks attends "The Best of Me" screening at the CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on October 9, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)

RALEIGH, N.C. — Nicholas Sparks, the author behind “The Notebook” and other works, may see trial in a lawsuit brought forth by a former headmaster of a school he founded, the Associated Press reports.

Back in 2013, Saul Hillel Benjamin was headmaster of Epiphany School of Global Studies in New Bern, a private Christian school, for less than five months before he was pressured into quitting, he said.

For the last four years, Benjamin has been suing Sparks, the school and the Nicholas Sparks Foundation which supports the school.

U.S. District Judge James Dever III ruled in October to allow the lawsuit to continue to a jury, the AP reports.

The lawsuit claims Sparks defamed Benjamin and violated the Americans with Disabilities act by telling parents and others that he had mental health problems, the judge said.

“Sparks’ statements are directly related to Epiphany’s decision to allegedly terminate Benjamin’s employment,” Dever wrote in his ruling, according to the AP. “The cited testimony constitutes direct evidence of disability discrimination by a decision-maker on the basis of Benjamin’s perceived mental impairment.”

Dever called for the jury to decide if the headmaster resigned or was pressured into quitting and if the school and Nicholas Sparks Foundation had grounds to fire Benjamin.

A potential trial would begin in March.

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