Lead Trial Counsel Defending Top 10 NCAA Division One Football Coach and the University’s Athletic Association
The Coach and Athletic Association were sued by a former student-athlete who alleged improprieties in the granting of football scholarships. A decision against the Athletic Association and the Coach would have affected recruiting of college athletes at every level. Trial in this matter lasted two weeks with well-known experts from various college football programs testifying for each side. The jury returned a unanimous defense verdict on all counts and awarded no damages.
Environmental Litigation for a University
Represented a university and its athletic association in environmental litigation against CSX related to environmental costs incurred in building and expanding the university's stadium.
SKO represented a university that terminated one of its police officers after two episodes of misconduct that were detected through intradepartmental procedures. The employee appealed the termination through an internal appeal process, which concluded in a four-day de novo hearing before a neutral Hearing Officer from the Kentucky Attorney General’s office. The internal appeal was unsuccessful, and the employee appealed to Jefferson Circuit Court, arguing that the Hearing Officer’s recommendations were arbitrary and capricious and that the employee had been deprived of the procedural protections found within KRS 15.520, aka the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights. In response, the university explained that the Hearing Officer’s recommendations were well supported, that KRS 15.520 was only applicable when officer discipline was premised on a citizen complaint (and thus not applicable in an intradepartmental matter), and that even if the procedural protections of KRS 15.520 applied, any prejudice was cured through the four-day de novo hearing that the employee had been afforded internally. After the Circuit Court agreed with the university’s points and upheld the Hearing Officer, the employee appealed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, where the same arguments were made. The Court of Appeals issued a 31-page opinion affirming the trial court on all points. The employee filed a motion for discretionary review which is currently pending. The case is a very meaningful one in the law enforcement community, particularly among non-unionized officers. Also, in reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals ruled as a matter of first impression that the university’s internal pre-hearing processes were constitutional.
Dismissal of Complaints
SKO sought dismissal of two complaints against a theological seminary, arguing that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents the Court from considering the matter. More specifically, SKO argued that because of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses, courts do not have jurisdiction over claims arising from the employment relationship between a religious institution and its ministerial employees. The Court granted summary judgment for the Seminary, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals confirmed each judgment.
Sexual Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment & Damage to Professional Reputation
SKO represented a university, a university dean and a department chair against allegations of sexual discrimination, hostile work environment and damage to professional reputation. During the long and strongly contested discovery process, SKO moved for summary judgment with respect to claims against the dean and the chair, and the motions were fully briefed and argued. At the conclusion of discovery, SKO moved for summary judgment on behalf of the university. The court granted summary judgment as to all defendants on all counts and dismissed the case.