Attorney Responds To UA's Motion To Dismiss

FAYETTEVILLE -- The attorney for a Montgomery County man who filed a lawsuit against Arkansas Chancellor John White and System President B. Alan Sugg argued Tuesday that the university officials are not immune from being sued.

Eddie Christian Jr., a Fort Smith attorney, had until Tuesday to respond to a motion filed by Arkansas on May 17 to have the lawsuit against White and Sugg dismissed. John David Terry filed the lawsuit April 24 in Washington County Circuit Court, alleging that White didn't properly investigate a disparaging e-mail sent to former Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain by a booster. University attorneys argued that White and Sugg couldn't be sued in their official capacity because they work for the state of Arkansas. But Christian, who is representing Terry in his lawsuit, argued in his response filed Tuesday that sovereign immunity doesn't apply to White and Sugg in this case. "What we're saying is, John White has failed to do his job. He had an obligation to investigate the harassment of a student-athlete, He didn't do it," Christian said Tuesday evening. "He has a constant obligation to ensure that the football program and the coaching staff is complying with NCAA rules and regulations." Christian filed his 48-page response to the motion to dismiss at 3:43 p.m. Tuesday afternoon in Washington County Circuit Court. He said it was likely the last response he'll file until Fayetteville Judge Mark Lindsay hears arguments on all motions Monday. "I don't see anything being filed on the plaintiff's behalf," Christian said. "It's just a matter of next Monday showing up and having a hearing and arguing why their motion to dismiss ought to be denied." Scott Varady, Arkansas' associate general counsel, said when the motion to dismiss was filed May 17 that White and Sugg are immune from being sued in their official capacity. "We're saying that by suing them in their official capacity, it's no different than suing the employer, which in this case is a state entity," Varady said. Arkansas has also filed a motion to quash subpoenas for White, Arkansas football coach Houston Nutt and running backs coach Danny Nutt. But Christian said that he should be allowed to begin gathering information if Lindsay rules that Sugg and White are not protected by sovereign immunity. "If that defense doesn't apply, it's time for deposition and discovery," Christian said.

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