Hi 70 / Lo 42
|Volume 68, Issue 56,
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Unsettled case haunts UH
By Nikie Johnson
UH may end up back in court on a matter that was thought to be resolved if allegations by a former employee can be proved.
A lawsuit brought by Beverly Gor, a former lecturer in the College of Technology who claimed she was the victim of retaliation and discrimination, went to court last month, and a jury ruled in favor of UH on Oct. 25.
But the action hasn't stopped there. Gor's lawyer filed a motion Oct. 30 alleging that two of UH's witnesses perjured themselves on the stand, saying the University's actions in court were "trial by ambush at its worst." They are asking for a new jury trial.
If the judge, U.S. District Judge David Hittner, rules in favor of Gor, it would be an unusual turn of events.
For now, Hittner has been convinced that "good cause supports" Gor's motion and is allowing her attorney to contact jurors.
Katherine Butler, who is representing Gor, is out of town and could not be reached for this article, but it is likely that she will ask jurors if the portion of testimony alleged to be false affected their decision.
The testimony in question was given by Barbara Stewart, then- chairwoman of the Department of Human Development and Consumer Sciences, where Gor worked; and Bernard McIntyre, then-dean of the College of Technology, which is over HDSC.
According to the most recent motion, those two witnesses perjured themselves during testimony that "was on a pivotal matter" to the outcome of the verdict.
The original lawsuit, filed in January 2001, said that in 1994, Gor helped a colleague filing a grievance against another professor for gender discrimination.
Mary Mohs filed a complaint against Ira Wolinsky, and asked Gor to write a letter "in which she detailed her own experiences with Wolinsky and the reports about Wolinsky that she had received from students," according to the lawsuit.
The suit claimed that "Wolinsky learned of the letter and later complained to Gor that she should not have written (it)."
In Summer 1995, HDCS created the new position of director of a dietetic internship, which Gor applied for. She claimed in the lawsuit that Wolinsky caused the search committee to be biased against her in retaliation for the letter she wrote, which resulted in her not getting the job.
The testimony in question has to do with how the position of internship director was classified: "The classification dictates whether interviews, among other checks and balances, were required for the position at issue," according to the motion for a new trial.
Stewart and McIntyre testified that it was a non-tenure-track faculty position, but Gor is claiming it is a staff position, and if hiring procedures for a staff position had been followed, Gor might have gotten the job. It also claims that the man who was hired, Clint Stevens, was classified as a staff member.
"The subject of this perjury was pivotal because ... the University was able to minimize the role of (Wolinsky) in the process," according to the motion. "If, after all, Wolinsky was not acting in direct violation of applicable hiring policies, the evidence of his manipulation of the committee is seriously eroded."
Stewart learned of accusations of perjury and the motion for a new trial by The Daily Cougar, and declined to comment because she did not know the content of the motion. McIntyre did not immediately return a phone message.
The motion also alleges that "the University intentionally sought to deceive the plaintiff and this Court by acknowledging the job's classification as being staff before the trial and changing its position only at trial, when it know that the plaintiff could not effectively respond."
UH maintains a policy of not commenting on pending litigation.
If Gor's lawyer can prove to the court that the witnesses committed perjury, and that the jurors might have ruled differently if they had been truthful, the judge can call for a new trial.
After the trial ended, jury members had expressed that their sympathies were with Gor and against the College of Technology, but they felt she hadn't quite proved her case sufficiently.
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