Judge Dismisses Lawsuit For Second Time

FAYETTEVILLE -- For the second time in three months, a judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging that University of Arkansas Chancellor John White failed to thoroughly investigate a disparaging e-mail sent to former quarterback Mitch Mustain by a booster.

Washington County Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay also awarded the university a $1,000 in attorney fees to deter other "meritless" lawsuits from being filed in the future.

"This type of case ... would invite not only every football fan but every baseball fan, track fan, softball fan and soccer fan to second-guess the coaches and the athletic directors," Lindsay said during his ruling.

"This is none of the court's business."

John David Terry of Mount Ida filed a lawsuit on April 24 against White and UA System President B. Alan Sugg, claiming that White shouldn't be paid his salary because he didn't properly investigate the offensive e-mail sent to Mustain by Teresa Prewett.

Terry also asked for an independent investigation to be ordered to determine White's handling of the matter.

Lindsay threw out the initial lawsuit on June 4, but he gave Terry's attorney -- Eddie Christian Jr. of Fort Smith -- the opportunity to file an amended lawsuit. Lindsay said Friday that he didn't see much difference between the first lawsuit and the amended one.

"Today I can say with Judge Lindsay's ruling, I'm very pleased and I'm very satisfied," said White, who sat at the defendant's table during the approximately 2 1/2-hour hearing.

Christian said afterward that he intends to appeal Lindsay's ruling sometime over the next month, keeping the highly publicized legal saga between his client and the university going.

"The judge issued his ruling, and we're going to appeal. We're going to appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court and see how they view it," Christian said Friday evening. "That's our intention."

Arkansas associate general counsel Scott Varady said the university will continue to fight the "frivolous" lawsuit and ask each time for Terry to pay attorney fees.

"I can't imagine that any other court would see it differently than Judge Lindsay," White said. "I don't know what it is about Mr. Christian; he doesn't understand what the word no means."

Lindsay could have awarded the university up to $5,000 in attorney fees. But he did offer some harsh criticism to Terry, who didn't attend Friday's hearing because he was out of the country for work purposes.

"Courts don't like to encourage people to use them in ways that aren't appropriate, and I think this is one of them," Lindsay said. "I think there's got to be a deterrent so people will know that you can't just come into court and file meritless claims."

Lindsay said any complaints about White's handling of the e-mail from Prewett should be brought to Arkansas' Board of Trustees or expressed in a letter to a newspaper editor. But they don't belong in a courtroom.

"If Chancellor White is happy, if President Sugg is happy, if the Trustees are happy, then I'm happy," Lindsay said.

University attorneys on Friday filed a motion for contempt against Christian. That's based on alleged efforts by him to continue using subpoenas to discover evidence after the judge had told everyone to stop.

Lindsay said Friday that any subpoenas issued in the case are moot because of the dismissal.

"I think their motive is to be as disruptive to the university as possible, and I think if there is an appeal, we'll defend ourselves in the appeal," Varady said. "And I'm confident that the law will prevail again."

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