CLARKSBURG – Former West Virginia University provost Gerald Lang resists a bid by former business school dean Stephen Sears to examine a settlement Lang reached with the Board of Governors in a suit over a favoritism scandal.
On Sept. 9, Lang asked U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp to quash a subpoena in a federal suit Sears and former associate dean Cyril Logar filed.
"Dr. Lang is not a party to this civil action and desires to have no active part in it," Michael Benninger of Morgantown wrote for Lang. "All documents and information pertaining to Dr. Lang and the resolution of the underlying academic misconduct charges in the underlying state court are to remain confidential."
Lang, Sears and Logar faced an investigation into charges that they improperly awarded a master's degree to Heather Bresch, daughter of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.
Lang sued the board in Monongalia Circuit Court in 2009, claiming conflicts of interest stained the investigation.
Circuit Judge Susan Tucker agreed, and she stopped the investigation.
Sears and Logar sued the board and individual university leaders last year, claiming civil rights violations and damage to their reputations and opportunities.
This June, Lang agreed to drop his suit and the board agreed not to investigate him.
Lang and the board asked Tucker to vacate her order, and she did so on July 15.
That meant the university could resume its investigation of Sears and Logar, unless they could persuade Stamp to stop it.
On July 26, Sears served a subpoena on Lang to produce the settlement agreement and all records including drafts of the agreement.
On Aug. 1, at a conference in Stamp's chambers, Benninger objected.
Stamp directed the lawyers to resolve it, but they didn't resolve it.
"Dr. Lang and his counsel firmly assert that the instant subpoena is burdensome and will create extreme and wholly unwarranted expense on Dr. Lang should he be required to comply with same," Benninger wrote. He said that it was "intended to harass Dr. Lang as a result of his compromise and settlement of the underlying state court action upon which plaintiff and his counsel have, thus far, relied in the prosecution of the instant federal court civil rights action."
He wrote that Sears wasn't a party to the Monongalia County action and shouldn't be permitted to invade the privacy of Lang's activities there.
He wrote that Sears asserted in filings with Stamp that Lang's action was separate and distinct from the federal action.
He wrote that communications among Lang, his counsel, and all others were irrelevant to the federal action.
As of Sept. 13, Stamp hasn't decided whether he has jurisdiction over the action.
He has taken under advisement the board's argument that Sears and Logar sued after a two-year statute of limitations expired.