UNCW reconsiders continuing with appeal in Adams case

By Pressley Baird, Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

June 12--The University of North Carolina Wilmington is deciding whether to proceed with an appeal after a judge ruled that the university must pay more than $700,000 in legal fees in criminology professor Mike Adams' case against UNCW.

It's not clear when the university will decide whether to proceed with its appeal, filed on May 7.

"Though the state/university is gratified the plaintiff's request for fees and costs was reduced approximately 30 percent by the court, the state/university still believe the costs and fees to be excessive," the university said in a statement. "The state/UNCW had previously filed a notice of appeal and will now evaluate whether to proceed with the appeal and/or pursue an attempted resolution to be conducted by a mediator assigned by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals."

The May 7 notice of appeal lists four issues the university was appealing: March's jury verdict in favor of Adams; the March order that found that UNCW had deprived Adams of his First Amendment right of protected speech; the April order denying UNCW's request for a new trial; and the April judgment for Adams' back pay.

The Attorney General's Office ultimately decides whether UNCW will appeal after working with the university and UNC-system general administration. UNCW also regularly sets aside funds for "contingent liabilities and claims as a matter of routine risk management," UNCW spokeswoman Janine Iamunno said.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm Howard agreed with UNCW that some of the extra costs in Adams' legal fees, such as expensive lunches and dinners and redundant travel, were excessive. Adams' attorneys originally asked for more than $1 million in legal fees from UNCW.

Adams accused the university of religious- and speech-based discrimination when he was not promoted to full professor in 2006. A jury ruled in March in Adams' favor.

In his lawsuit, Adams claimed he was denied promotion because of his religious views. Adams is a Christian and has been vocal about his views in columns and books and on radio and television programs.

A federal district court ruled in favor of UNCW in 2010, but a federal appeals court overturned that ruling in 2011 and it was upheld by a jury.

Pressley Baird: 343-2328

On Twitter: @PressleyBaird


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