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Michigan ‘Leader in the Law’ Vince Colella Teams With National Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump on Race Discrimination Lawsuit Filed Against Florida School District, Its School Board and Multiple Individual Defendants

February 21, 2024

African-American student the target of ongoing discrminatory behavior stemming from high school sports shows district-wide complicity of coaches and administration  

Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero, EAFocus Communications, 248.260.8466;

Southfield, Mich. --- February 21, 2024 --- A. Vince Colella, personal injury and civil rights attorney and co-founder of Southfield-based Moss & Colella, P.C., is serving as co-counsel with noted national civil rights attorney Ben Crump in a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the School District of Lee County, the School Board of Lee County and several individual defendants in Fort Myers, Florida. Filed on February 14, 2024, the complaint details a pattern of discriminatory comments and actions targeting an African American student-athlete at a Lee County high school.

Background and Legal Action


The lawsuit underscores a disturbing narrative of bias and exclusion within the School District’s Fort Myers High School and its sports program, where “M.T.,” an African American student-athlete, encountered numerous obstacles solely based on his race. He experienced and suffered from unequal treatment in access to both educational resources and opportunities, from discriminatory practices in team selection, coaching decisions, and disciplinary action, as well as unlawful retaliation against him and his parents for asserting their rights. M.T. was unlawfully targeted and discriminated against, including but not limited to being verbally assaulted with racial slurs, threats, and derogatory remarks, by school officials, administration and others in the school district. 

What began as an offensive and racist group text sent by an assistant baseball coach that read “Happy Valentines Day n-[word]” to the high school baseball team, escalated to an organized, pre-planned March walkout (in protest of the district’s ultimate termination of one of the coach defendants) by coaches, players and parents that was known to school faculty, including the athletic director. The walkout occurred during a game with a rival school, leaving M.T. and the only other African American player – neither of whom was aware of the walkout - alone on the field to be ridiculed.

Colella said his legal team is demanding a jury trial because of the pervasiveness of the racial bias and discrimination within the school, its administration and among its teachers and coaching staff.

“The principle of nondiscrimination is a cornerstone of justice, fairness, and equality within public educational institutions. Unfortunately, the public schools within The School District of Lee County, Florida, violated this principle time and time again,” Colella said.

The case has caught national media attention, with Colella and Crump both interviewed by ESPN to dig deeper into the story.

Crump is known for such high profile discriminatory wrongful death cases as Breonna Taylor, a young Black woman shot in 2020 by police in Kentucky after they stormed her apartment with a warrant for her boyfriend. Colella and Crump have previously worked on other cases together, including the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a deputy sheriff in Harris County, Texas.

Colella is known as a champion for justice in cases involving racial discrimination, mental illness, jailhouse deaths and police brutality. He is a recipient of numerous legal awards and was named to the Michigan Lawyers Weekly Leaders in the Law class of 2019. 

About Moss & Colella

Celebrating more than 25 years, Moss & Colella represents the victims of personal injury, civil rights violations, discrimination, medical malpractice and wrongful death.  The firm is recognized as a leader in complex tort litigation, including excess and deadly force, jail death, sexual abuse and harassment, auto and truck accidents, motorcycle accidents and other severe injury and wrongful death claims. To learn more about the firm and its diverse areas of practice, visit

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The attorneys of Moss & Colella have carefully chosen their career paths to fight for those that have suffered from injury and wrongful death. We believe every citizen should have the right to hire the best lawyer who will actively advocate for their case.

David Moss and Vince Colella have over 60 collective years of personal injury trial experience that provides you a level of legal services and success unmatched by other firms. By working together, we have the ability to find creative, effective, and efficient solutions to even the most complex cases. No matter what situation you face, we will help you get through it.

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