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Former Football Coach and Player: $800K in lawywer fees disputed

$800K in lawyer fees disputed

A hearing to settle UL attorneys’ questions about a jury’s verdict to award former UL football coach Jerry Baldwin $2 million, as well as Baldwin’s claim that he’s owed $800,000 in attorney fees, has been pushed back to March 31.

A hearing was held on Monday for Baldwin’s attorneys to present evidence supporting their attorney fees claim, but the two parties will be back in court later this week to request more information on the matter.

"We’ve asked for documents that either support their claims or that we can look at to assess their claim for attorney fees," said Larry Marino, one of the attorneys representing UL. "They only gave us some of what we asked for."

The $800,000 in attorney fees is being disputed by UL because it’s "roughly seven or eight times the largest attorneys’ fees – in the state court at any rate – for discrimination claims that we can find," said Marino.

At the March hearing, 19th Judicial District Judge Don Johnson will determine whether the fee assessed by Baldwin’s attorney, G. Karl Bernard, is reasonable.

Baldwin was awarded $2 million by a jury last October in his lawsuit against the university that included claims of emotional distress, breach of contract and discrimination after he was fired in 2001.

At the hearing, Johnson will also consider UL’s motion to "correct" the verdict.

UL attorneys have questioned the validity of the verdict because they found that not enough votes were documented on some claims and when polled some jurors couldn’t recall how they voted. Jurors voted that Baldwin was not fired because of his race, yet they voted that there was some indication that Baldwin’s race was a determining factor in his termination.

Jurors also found evidence of a breach of contract, but didn’t find that the university acted in bad faith. Jurors also found that Baldwin suffered emotional distress following his termination but that the infliction was negligent, not intentional.

Bernard could not be reached by phone for comment Monday.

Baldwin was head coach of UL’s football team for three seasons. UL President Ray Authement has maintained that Baldwin was fired because during the coach’s tenure, the team only won six games.

Daily Advertiser, January 29, 2007