Former Westfield State University president Evan S. Dobelle has withdrawn a federal lawsuit that claims university officials violated his civil and contractual rights by forcing him to retire after reports of his lavish spending.
Dobelle and the defendants, who included university trustees and state commissioner of higher education Richard Freeland, agreed to have the case dismissed, according to court documents. Dobelle also waived his right to re-file at a later date and dropped an attempt to force the university to pay his legal fees in the federal suit.
“All parties agreed today that it was best to cease the litigation and dismiss the case,” Ross Garber, an attorney for Dobelle, said in a statement Thursday night.
“The cost of continuing to fight was simply too great, and Dr. Dobelle determined that the right thing for the students, faculty and alumni of Westfield State University is that this matter end,” Garber continued. “It is his wish that WSU continue the very strong progress it has made in the past several years, and to now have a successful search for a new President.”
Dobelle, 69, had sought more than $1.6 million in damages. He could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
A separate civil suit filed by Dobelle that seeks damages for the university’s alleged breach of contract and payment of legal fees remains active in Hampden Superior Court.
Garber, of the Hartford firm Shipman & Goodwin, filed a motion this week asking federal magistrate judge Katherine Robertson to allow him and two other lawyers from his firm to withdraw from the case.
He told the judge, in court papers, that Dobelle had failed to pay his legal bills “despite numerous notices of his substantial arrears.”
“Although counsel and plaintiff have made numerous efforts to resolve these fundamental disagreements, all attempts at resolution have proven fruitless and effective communication has irretrievably broken down,” Garber wrote.
The firm had represented Dobelle since his lawsuit was filed in October 2013, shortly before he resigned.
A separate suit filed last August by then-attorney general Martha Coakley alleged that in his six years as Westfield’s president, Dobelle misspent nearly $100,000 in university funds on personal expenses, including expensive meals, trips to Cuba, and visits to the Bohemian Grove, an exclusive private men’s club in Monte Rio, Calif.
Dobelle allegedly filed false reports to veil the spending. He eventually repaid many of the expenses months or even years late, using backdated checks to make the repayments appear timely, the attorney general’s office alleged.
The attorney general’s lawsuit is not affected by the withdrawal of Dobelle’s federal lawsuit and will continue.
“Our office remains focused on our case to hold Evan Dobelle accountable for violating the public’s trust by allegedly stealing $100,000 from Massachusetts taxpayers,” said Christopher Loh, a spokesman for Attorney General Maura Healey.
Dobelle’s extravagant spending was made public in a series of Globe reports.