Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fresno State drops appeal of Johnson-Klein verdict; agrees to $9 million settlement

Fresno State will drop its appeal of Stacy Johnson-Klein's jury verdict, a $19.1 million figure that the court later reduced to $6.6 million, plus $2.5 million in attorney's fees and $700,000 in court costs. The university has agreed to pay Johnson-Klein a total of $9 million--which includes attorneys fees and costs -- over the course of 23 years.

Johnson-Klein, the former women's basketball coach, sued the university last year. The jury found that she was fired in retaliation for complaining about sex discrimination and harassment within the athletic department. (What a difference a year makes, huh? Fresno State reportedly turned down Johnson-Klein's offer to settle before the trial for $950,000.)

This seems like a pretty good deal for Johnson-Klein, as it is only a slight reduction from the $9.8 million she and her lawyers would have received in total if the district court's ruling had stood. However, as the Fresno Bee notes, the payout will actually cost the university considerably less than $9 million because it includes annuities for Johnson-Klein's six children, which the university can purchase at a discount. That discount, along with the long-term payment schedule, must have been important to Fresno State, as that seems like the only real concession Johnson-Klein had to make to get the university to drop its appeal.

Here's hoping that Fresno State will resolve Lindy Vivas's case in similar fashion. Vivas, the former volleyball coach, also convinced a jury that the university had fired her in retaliation for her opposition to sex discrimination in the department. The university is still appealing the jury award she received last summer, a $5.8 million figure that was later reduced to $4.52 million, plus attorney's fees.

[Thanks, W!]