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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Ind. Courts - "Purdue rebuffed on points of lawsuit"

Updating a long list of earlier ILB stories relating to the dispute between Purdue and Michael Wartell, Rebecca S. Green had this long story Aug. 30th in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. It begins:

In its request to have a judge reconsider whether it has to provide a copy of a report to former IPFW Chancellor Mike Wartell, Purdue University asked the court to review documents it hadn't made available before.

On Thursday, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that, not only would the court not consider those additional documents that were previously unavailable to the magistrate who made the ruling on the report, but again ruled that the report in question was not protected by attorney-client privilege.

In July, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich ruled Purdue University could not claim a report generated by attorney John C. Trimble hired to investigate Wartell's forced retirement in 2011 was protected by attorney-client privilege.

Rodovich's ruling came after the Indiana Court of Appeals found the same thing in connection to the report in a state-level case filed by Wartell in Tippecanoe County.

After his removal, Wartell filed a complaint against the university in Tippecanoe County, challenging his retirement and claiming discrimination and harassment. Purdue hired Trimble as an independent investigator.

The investigation was completed in February 2013 and reported to a group of Purdue board members, which found that no discrimination had taken place.

Wartell also filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that the school had never enforced the policy on anyone who did not want to leave, including chancellors.

During the course of the state lawsuit, Purdue refused to disclose the Trimble report, a decision smacked down by the Indiana Court of Appeals, which ruled that the document was a public record.

In the federal lawsuit, a federal magistrate judge ruled in July that the document was subject to discovery and should be disclosed as part of the lawsuit process, according to court documents.

According to the federal lawsuit, in late 2010 or early 2011, then-Purdue President France Córdova announced in a meeting that, before her term as president was over, she wanted to increase the number of women in the administration.

Requests from IPFW that Wartell be allowed to stay were denied. Purdue replaced him with a 64-year-old woman, Vicky Carwein, and she assumed his duties in September 2012.

In the most recent ruling, issued late Thursday by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Miller Jr., the court said again the document should be turned over to Wartell and found that Trimble did not disclose any attorney-client relationship with the university.

“Tossing Mr. Trimble at least in the direction of the bus, Purdue argues that the magistrate judge let (Trimble) through his omission, waive the attorney-client privilege,” Miller wrote. ­

“(T)hat Mr. Trimble didn't do so was evidence that he was acting merely as an investigator, rather than as Purdue's attorney.”

In their partial appeal of Rodovich's ruling, Purdue's attorneys wanted the court to consider a number of documents previously unavailable to Rodovich when he made his July ruling. Miller ruled that those documents were not to be considered in the appeal.

An appeal of the state case is pending before the Indiana Supreme Court.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 2, 2014 09:31 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts