Attorney Gerard Harrison said there conflicting rulings from appeals courts in Texas on whether the university can claim sovereign immunity from such a lawsuit. Leach has claimed Texas Tech waived that right through its conduct in firing him in December 2009.
A decision in January from the 7th Court of Appeals upheld Texas Tech’s assertion of immunity, though it allows Leach to pursue a non-monetary ruling that he was wrongfully let go. Tech attorney Dicky Grigg said he is confident the high court will agree with Texas Tech.
The school fired Leach on Dec. 30, 2009, two days after suspending him amid allegations he mistreated a player with a concussion. Leach has denied mistreating Adam James, the son of ESPN analyst Craig James, and has said he suspects an $800,000 bonus he was due the next day was the reason he was fired.
“After carefully looking at Supreme Court precedent on waiver by conduct we are firmly convinced it is a viable doctrine under Texas law,” Harrison said. “The court of appeals was wrong in ruling that it is not available.”
Grigg had not seen the filing late Friday.
Texas Tech attorneys have argued that the university is a state entity with sovereign immunity, meaning it can only be sued with permission from the state Legislature or a waiver based on a defendant’s conduct.
In January, Leach hired an Austin consulting firm to work on getting Texas legislation passed that could allow the former coach to sue the university, another of Leach’s attorneys, Paul Dobrowski, said Friday.
In a separate case, Leach has also sued ESPN Inc. and a Dallas public relations firm, accusing them of libel and slander after he was fired. The lawsuit seeks undisclosed damages and retractions from ESPN and the PR firm.
By Mark Mix
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