Former general counsel’s lawsuit against WKU dismissed


Debra Murray and Michael Crimmins

A lawsuit from WKU’s former general counsel and Title IX coordinator, Deborah Wilkins, has been dismissed by a circuit court judge following a year long case that alleged age and sex discrimination. 

The court order indicated that all parties agreed to the dismissal after the lawsuit was filed a year ago. The court order dismissing the case was entered on April 12 by Circuit Court Judge Chris Cohron, according to Bowling Green Daily News.

Matthew Brown, Wilkins’ attorney, said following the year-long length of the lawsuit pending, he and Wilkins decided it was best to dismiss. 

“The defendants all have filed motions to dismiss based on a variety of grounds to include sovereign immunity and other defenses,” Brown said. “We have responded to those motions and the court has had them under submission for quite a while under review and Ms. Wilkins and I have just determined to dismiss the suit at this time [to] sort of turn the page and move on to the next chapter. We still very much believe in her position.”

Brown said that cases similar to this one can go on for many years and Wilkins has decided to move on. 

The suit listed six defendants: Western Kentucky University; WKU President Timothy Caboni; Phillip Bale, chair of the WKU Board of Regents; David Brinkley, the elected staff regent and director of Educational Telecommunications at WKU; Susan Howarth, executive vice president for strategy, operations and finance; and Tony Glisson, retired director of human resources.

Andrea Anderson, the current general counsel for WKU, was added to the list of defendants through an amended complaint filed in November.

The suit alleged that Wilkins experienced discrimination on the basis of age and gender, retaliation for participation in protected activity, tortious interference with a contractual relationship, breach of contract and fraud. 

We are pleased that Ms. Wilkins requested the dismissal of this suit,” Jace Lux, university spokesperson said via email. “Her request now puts the matter to rest.”

Gregg Hovious, WKU’s outside counsel from the Louisville law firm Middleton-Reutlinger, said on April 22, 2022 that the university intended to “Vigorously defend against Ms. Wilkins baseless claims” adding that her behavior became too unpredictable to “advance the interest of the university.”

WKU filed a formal response to the allegations on May 12, 2022 containing “a memorandum from the individual defendants in support of their motion to dismiss, a memorandum of law from WKU in support of its motion to dismiss and a general answer from the university in response to the plaintiff’s complaint.”

 These motions were responded to but pending for several months, leading to the decision to dismiss the lawsuit, Brown said. 

Wilkins was originally hired by Thomas Meredith, former president of WKU, as general counsel in 1994. 

Andrea Anderson was appointed general counsel in May 2020, when Caboni removed Wilkins from the position and named Wilkins the interim Title IX coordinator and special assistant to the president. 

Wilkins was terminated on Nov. 22, 2021, and the Title IX role was assigned to Anderson. Wilkins remained under contract until June 30, 2022.

Ena Demir now serves as the Title IX coordinator.