✔ FC here. This is written in response to a Chronicle story. Let's start by noting that when the newspaper reports the charges were "dismissed," it's meant that the NC State Attorney General, after a thorough investigation, concluded the three Dukies charged with crime were "innocent." The victims of a "rogue prosecutor."
As for the lawsuit between Duke and AIG. There are curious elements to this -- one being why Duke said no to a $5 million settlement when we understood that the limit of its insurance policy was $5 million.
This was a battle between two sides who are nasty in their approach to litigation: Duke and the scandal tarred insurance giant AIG. The Chronicle tells us their settlement brings us a step closer to final resolution of the lacrosse hoax. But let no one think there aren't some giant steps still to be taken.
There are two lawsuits that include Duke as a defendant, and another aimed at Durham for the actions of its district attorney and police. I'll go thru the latest on these in a moment.
✔There is also unfinished business on the Duke campus. Today the Chronicle uses a file photo of former Trustee chair Bob Steel and President Brodhead. Neither has been forthcoming in explaining his actions during the crisis, and until both are held accountable, there can be no closure.
Just with respect to the suspension of the team -- which is the subject of the news conference where the picture was taken -- we had Brodhead stating team members were threatened and their lives in jeopardy if their season continued, and Steel explaining to The New Yorker magazine that ending the season was a PR move, that we couldn't allow video of new practice sessions on television newscasts define what Duke was doing.
The contradictions go on and on.
Yes, Mr Brodhead later offered what his PR man identified as an apology, offering just a generalization that he and his administration should have been more supportive of the players. But this avoided the root of the matter: why he did what he did, why he acted as if the three players were guilty.
For example, in the initial days, with three lacrosse players facing false charges for a crime that was never committed, Brodhead refused to meet with the parents of the players. Why? What the hell was he thinking?
Students, imagine if you were facing charges that could land you in prison for 30 years, your parents raced to Durham, and the president of Duke refused to see them.
Parents, imagine your kid being arrested and locked up in a city that was racially charged with violence threatened, but Brodhead shut the door in your face.
What the hell was he thinking?
It's questions like that one that haunt this campus. They will forever cast a shadow over Brodhead's tenure if he takes no steps to throw some light.
I would like Michael Schoenfeld, PR Vice President, to explain to me one good reason why stakeholders in this university cannot find out what settlements cost. Right now there is a haze, for we wonder if officials are paying too much to settle lawsuits so they protect their own hides by not testifying, or if on the other hand, we are left hanging as to whether Duke University has been fair in its dealings with the players and others caught up in the hoax.
The settlement announced last night was about the cost of lawyers as well as money paid to the three lax players who faced charges. FC has often heard -- but been unable to confirm at all whether this is accurate or a wild estimate -- that each player got $8 million; FC also does not know if this includes legal fees or not.
To give Loyal Readers just a taste of the horrendous money involved -- aside from the $5 million settlement from AIG that Duke spurned -- let's remember that just one high flying defense lawyer that Duke brought in for one of the civil suits, Jamie Gorelick of Washington, billed for $2 million for her services in one year. And that was before the litigation really went into high gear.
We learned that from income tax form 990 -- which unfortunately was changed in a manner so that it yields more insight in some areas, less in others.
Form 990 also revealed that Duke's legal costs have tripled since the year before the hoax, but we have no way of isolating what was lax and what was other things -- like this foolish rush into Kunshan China.
As FC has pointed out, Duke is a ruthless litigator, trying to wear out plaintiffs, trying to get them to exhaust their resources. Most recently, FC has expressed great concern that the same nasty tactics would be use to cast additional burden on the cancer patients of Dr Anil Potti, who have substantial malpractice claims and great anguish already.
OK the latest. The first two lawsuits basically are by team players other than those indicted, and center on the outrageous actions of Brodhead and Steel as well as the disgraceful actions of the Group of 88 faculty who tried to form a lynch mob. Recall please the day they stood beside a sign that said "castrate." Recall please the banging of drums.
✔ One lawsuit with Duke as a defendant is known as Carrington. You can find papers here:
Lawyers have now sent papers back and forth to each other 163 times. It's been dormant since last fall as we await further pre-trial moves.
✔ A second lawsuit with Duke as a defendant is known as McFadyen. Papers are here:
Court records show lawyers have traded papers -- briefs, motions -- 183 times. And the case goes on.
✔ A third lawsuit does not involve Duke, but the city for the role of its District Attorney and police. This was started by the three players who were indicted. Papers are here.
We're up to lawyer maneuver #132 in that one.
✔ Thank you for reading Fact Checker. Good day!