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Former Football: UL set to challenge Baldwin judgment

Jury awarded ex-coach $2M in damages

UL plans to challenge the jury decision that awarded $2 million to former football coach Jerry Baldwin for claims he made against the university.

According to UL’s attorneys, the plaintiff didn’t have the nine votes needed from jurors on some claims he made, and some jurors couldn’t recall how they voted.

"A new trial is another avenue that’s open to us, and that’s something we’re going to pursue because of the lack of evidence supporting any of the claims," said Larry Marino, one of the attorneys handling the case for UL.

UL’s attorneys are preparing to file motions that challenge some of the jury’s votes in the case. Marino said that an appeal to a higher court would be a last resort.

Earlier this month, a Baton Rouge jury voted to award Baldwin $2 million in his lawsuit against the university. Among Baldwin’s claims were emotional distress, breach of contract and discrimination after he was fired by the university in 2001.

While nine votes are needed for a judgment, the claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress had four "no" votes from the 12 jurors with some jurors uncertain which vote they cast, Marino said.

On the claim of intentional interference of Baldwin’s contract, seven "yes" votes were made and two jurors could not recall how they voted, he said, adding that the response from jurors on discrimination claims was conflicting.

Marino said jurors found that Baldwin was not terminated because of his race; however, jurors answered yes to a second question that asked if race was a determining factor in his termination.

It’s too soon to tell if the jury’s decision will have any impact on how the UL System advises its universities to handle future terminations, said Kay Kirkpatrick, UL System vice president for administration and general counsel.

"We need to take a look at the jury verdict itself and get a better understanding of it," she said. "It’s premature to talk about changing policies until we get a final judgment."

Daily Advertiser, October 31, 2007