WKU engaged in six lawsuits

Leah Brown

As of Oct. 17, WKU was involved in six cases pending litigation. The cases have not progressed in the judicial system since the summer.

“We filed motions for summary judgment in two discrimination cases,” General Counsel Deborah Wilkins said.

Marilyn Gardner v. WKU is one of the discrimination cases. Gardner claims she was discriminated against because of a disability. This trial has been ongoing since May 2011. The discovery phase was completed in May 2014. 

The discovery phrase is where all parties involved take depositions from the witnesses. 

WKU filed a motion for summary judgment in the U.S. District Court on July 28.

Cheryl Lewis-Smith v. WKU is the other discrimination case. Smith is a former employee and an African American female. Smith filed a civil suit, claiming her position was eliminated due to her race and age. 

The trial has been ongoing since Jan. 30, 2012. The discovery phase was completed in April 2014, and WKU filed a motion for summary judgment on June 16.

Both cases are pending at this time. 

Jason Gati v. WKU is the most recent case, from Jul. 15. Gati, a former student, claimed WKU violated a Kentucky Civil Rights Act by not offering the courses he needs for his degree program in Elizabethtown. Wilkins said there has been no activity on this case.

WKU is defending a suit, Whitney Beckner v. Miss Kentucky State Pageant Organization, on behalf of two WKU employees. Beckner filed a suit against the employees claiming their negligence was responsible for her injuries. There is still no trial date, and the discovery phase is proceeding. 

In Terry J. Reagan vs. Western Kentucky University, Reagan,  a former employee, filed a suit in Oct. 2013, claiming he was fired because of his age. Discovery is in process.

The oldest case pending litigation involves a retiree of WKU, Elizabeth Esters, who claims her employment contract with the university was breached. In April, the Kentucky Court of Appeals issued an opinion upholding the decision of the trial court. WKU filed a motion for discretionary review with the Kentucky Supreme Court, but no action has been taken on the motion since August.