As the Big Blue Nation begins its trek into the 4th of July weekend and gets over the malaise of the Zahveeay Henry circus, we shouldnt forget the other news that has been happening. Specifically, this has been an interesting week in the Billy Clyde lawsuit shenanigans across the country. If you remember, Clyde originally filed his lawsuit in federal court in Texas, alleging that mean ol’ Kentucky came down to his simple life and coaxed him to Lexington, where bad things most certainly awaited. Kentucky then filed a different suit in Frankfort state court, asking for a ruling from the Court that it owed Gillispie nothing and he would like it.
The ball was advanced this week, as two things happened. First. UK filed its response in Texas and made a couple of interesting claims. First, it once again reiterated that it never had a contract with Billy Gillispie, and to prove that point, it suggested that an offer to Clyde had been made that was worth MORE than what was being paid to him under the MOU. To UK, that suggested that no agreement had been reached and is proof that the MOU and its terms were just a gap filler while the real contract was being hammered out. Also, UK claimed that Gillispie sued the wrong entity and that his actual employer was the University of Kentucky, not the UK Athletics Association. This is important because IF the University of Kentucky is his employer, principles of sovereign immunity mean that it can only be sued for breach of contract and only in Franklin County Circuit Court.
While everyone digested that news, the Herald Leader searched tax records which showed that the UK Athletics Association was the actual entity that paid Billy Gillispie and is the entity that listed him as its employee. That information would seem to be damning to UK’s contention that it is entitled to some sovereign immunity and that the case must be in Franklin County. While UK has had no comment yet on this revelation, it cant come as a surprise to the school and one has to assume that it will suggest that UKAA is just a shell of the actual employer, the University. There are some harms to this position…most importantly that if UKAA were to be determined to be just a figment of all of our imaginations, some of its business would then be open to the public via the Open Records laws. Thus it will be interesting to see what UK’s ultimate position will be on this issue.
Bottom line: It is very unlikely that UK will win in its argument that Clyde sued the wrong entity and that his claims for everything but breach of contract are forbidden. UKAA was Clyde’s employer and the argument that the only forum that can hear the case is in Franklin County, Kentucky is likely not to be accepted. I still think however that this case will end up in Kentucky, mainly because the claim that led Clyde to bring the case in Texas, tortious interference of contract, is most likely to be dismissed. I still think this case ends up where I thought it would end up when filed…in federal court in Lexington. To get there, Kentucky will have to argue that nothing significant in this lawsuit occurred in Texas and that the state of Texas thus has no jurisdiction over the UK Athletics Association. When it does this successfully, the case will be transferred to Lexington and Billy Clyde will be unhappy.
On a side note, the filings and public statements are starting to get a bit snippy, which suggests that both parties are about to start letting things fly. If that happens, this drama could turn into a circus and I still believe the big loser will be the Dr. Pepper drinker from the Lone Star State. Stay tuned….