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Fired coach wins $2 million settlement

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by StaggerLee, Oct 20, 2007.

  1. StaggerLee

    StaggerLee Well-Known Member

    So, I haven't seen this discussed on here, but wanted to get some input from the board. Am I crazy to think this lawsuit and subsequent win sets a bad precedent? (My thoughts added after the story)

    Fired ULL coach wins suit

    Jury awards Jerry Baldwin $2 million in discrimination case

    Advocate staff writer

    Jurors awarded a fired University of Louisiana at Lafayette head football coach $2 million in damages late Thursday, finding that university officials breached his contract and inflicted emotional distress through negligence.

    Jurors also determined that former coach Jerry Baldwin’s race played a role in his firing, but was not the sole reason for his losing his job. Baldwin was the first black head football coach at a major Louisiana university.

    The six white jurors and six black jurors took almost 10 hours to work their way through a complicated verdict form. The award breakdown is $500,000 for general damages, including emotional distress; $600,000 for past lost wages; $900,000 for future lost wages, and $2,676 for special damages. Jurors voted 10-2 on the amount of damages.

    Baldwin’s attorney G. Karl Bernard said his client is appreciative he had the opportunity to air his grievances.

    “There is no substitute for victory,” said.

    ULL attorney Steve Oats said the verdict is not supported by evidence presented at trial. Oats said he and university officials will evaluate the verdict and determine how to proceed with the case.

    “It is clear Jerry Baldwin was not terminated because of his race,” Oats said. “Jerry Baldwin was terminated over his tenure. The team had a record of 6-27 and attendance was terrible. The program was not going in the right direction.”

    Baldwin alleged in a lawsuit that he was fired in 2001 after three years at the helm for racially discriminatory reasons and that his contract was breached.

    The defendants in the lawsuit were the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System, the university, and former Athletic Director Nelson Schexnayder.

    After the verdict was read in court, ULL attorneys asked to have state District Judge Don Johnson verify with each juror whether they support the verdict. Most jurors remembered each of their answers to the questions posed in the three-page, 24-question verdict form. Some jurors did not recall all of their answers.

    One potential problem with the verdict form was brought to Johnson’s attention. It involves a section in which jurors found that Baldwin was the victim of “negligent infliction of emotional distress.”

    During the polling of jurors, ULL attorney Larry Marino noted that fewer than the required nine jurors said they answered “yes” to all of the questions in that section. It is unclear how Marino’s finding, if proven to be accurate, could affect the verdict.

    The verdict came at the end of an eight-day trial. During closing arguments, Bernard told jurors they could determine racial discrimination by focusing on the way Baldwin was treated during his stint as head coach compared to the way white coaches were treated before and after Baldwin had the job.

    As an example, Bernard noted that the other coaches receive new equipment and had a greater ability to market the football program via a coach’s television show and through the university’s marketing department.

    Baldwin worked with used equipment, the marketing director was fired his second year on the job, and he never had a coach’s show to promote the football program, Bernard said.

    Oats countered that the same administration officials now accused of racial discrimination are the same people who gave Baldwin the job as the first black head coach at a major Louisiana university.

    Oats also said there are no signs that Baldwin’s ability to get another job in coaching has been hampered by the firing. He also said there was no evidence presented that Baldwin suffered extreme emotional distress.


    My problem with this whole case is that how could the University be racist if they hired him in the first place? What the story fails to mention is that at the time of Jerry Baldwin's reign as head coach, UL Lafayette was THE ONLY Division I-A program in the country to have both a black head football and black head basketball coach (Jesse Evans). It also fails to mention that the first person interviewed to replace Baldwin, and the first choice to replace Baldwin was a black coach.

    Baldwin went 6-27 in three years at UL Lafayette, and was fired for it. The remaining year of his contract was paid. So what's the problem? If he's a good coach, why is he preaching now instead of coaching? Did his firing from one of the worst football programs in the country put him on a list of unsuitable coaches?

    I think it's ridiculous that he won and I think he probably just screwed over so many colleagues with his lawsuit. Now, what's the benefit of hiring a minority if you know that the precedent has been set that they can sue you for wrongful termination?
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