HUNTINGTON – Marshall University governors decided against defending the school in a trial that would have compared the treatment of the state treasurer's daughter to that of a student with a hearing impairment.
On Feb. 7, the governors and nursing student Alexandra Bertolotti told U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers they settled her discrimination suit.
He called off a trial he would have started on March 1.
Bertolotti planned to introduce evidence about officials who boosted a grade for Emily Perdue, daughter of John Perdue.
The governors failed last year to keep the Perdue story out of the Bertolotti suit.
As trial approached, they prepared to resist the connection again.
On Feb. 3, they moved to exclude "news reports, including but not limited to, those related to any other student alleged to have been enrolled at Marshall University."
Cheryl Connelly of Huntington wrote, "The evidence plaintiff seeks to introduce would tend to confuse issues, mislead the jury, cause undue delay and waste time."
She wrote that "for the sake of argument only, plaintiff contends that another student benefited from having parents with political influence."
She wrote, "Taken at face value, plaintiff's assertion does not make the claims raised in her amended complaint anymore or less likely."
The governors sought to suppress other touchy topics.
Connelly moved to exclude evidence of Board of Governors Policy GA-3 on social justice, or social justice plans, or any internal investigation.
She wrote, "Whether or not Marshall University has followed its social justice policy or plan, or investigated or failed to investigate plaintiff's claim of disability discrimination does not make the claims raised in her amended complaint any more or less likely."
She moved to exclude a letter from parents Meg and Ric Bertolotti to dean Stephen Hensley and e-mails between daughter and parents.
She moved to exclude "testimony from her parents regarding what she told them about matters they did not personally witness."
Bertolotti sued Marshall and instructor Sandra Prunty in 2009, claiming they refused to accommodate her hearing impairment.
She claimed she fell barely short of a grade necessary grade for advancement.
She started without a lawyer, but Mike Weikle of Ann Arbor, Mich., took the case.
When news of Perdue's grade swept the state, Weikle pressed for evidence. Marshall governors pleaded for privacy, redacting her name 15 times in their brief.
Last April, Magistrate Judge Robert Taylor ruled against the governors.
In September, Chambers dismissed claims against Prunty.