This report comes a little late. About a month late to be exact, but is still worthy of posting if for nothing more than to provide a final update. Remember when I reported that the SWAC and Duer Sharp were sued by former staffer Eunice Elliot for alleged breach of contract?
In the lawsuit (EUNICE ELLIOTT v. SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE ET AL) filed back on December 22, 2009 in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County in Birmingham, Elliot claims that Duer failed to pay money that was owed to her for finalizing a deal that would make Farmers Insurance a SWAC sponsor.
According to a court order filed on June 24, 2010, the case was set for a jury trial on January 24, 2011 at 9:00 am. However, a recent court order from Circuit Court Judge Nicole Gordon Still filed on December 7, 2010 stated the following;
With the parties having informed the court that the above-styled action has been resolved, all pending motions are hereby MOOT and the above-styled action is hereby DISMISSED with prejudice, costs taxed as paid.
DONE this 7th day of December, 2010.
It appears that both sides have reached an out of court settlement without much fanfare to the benefit of Duer Sharp. It wasn’t as if this was the media story of the year, but can you imagine the embarrassment the conference would have suffered had this case gone to trial and Duer had lost?
What really makes this story interesting is not the case itself, but Duer’s actions while the outcome of the case was still pending. Let’s examine this more closely by reviewing some key calendar dates from the past year.
- December 22, 2009 – Elliot files lawsuit against the SWAC for breach of contract..
- April 7, 2010 – TSPNsports broke the story about the lawsuit.
- August 30, 2010 – SWAC Assistant Commissioner for Communications Tom Galbraith announced at the start of the conference’s football teleconference that Duer would not be available to speak to members of the media for the entire football season. Let me repeat that…THE ENTIRE FOOTBALL SEASON. Side Note: This was the opening week of the SWAC football season.
- October 11, 2010 – The SWAC announces that Duer’s contract has been extended through 2014.
- December 7, 2010 – Circuit Court of Jefferson County files a court order to have the case dismissed indicating that both parties have resolved the issue.
- December 7, 2010 (same date the order was filed) – Duer suddenly makes himself available to speak with members of media during the SWAC Football Championship Game teleconference. The game was played on December 11.
I am willing to speculate that Duer (possibly at the advice of counsel) felt it would be best not to take questions from the media fearing the case would become more widespread if he was asked about the lawsuit. What other reason would Duer have not to speak with the media on the opening week of the 2010 football season? Not only is it possible that this strategic move helped Duer with his case in court, it is likely that it helped in getting him that 4 year contract extension.
With the contract extension signed and the lawsuit with Elliot settled, Duer came through it all in addressing members of the media on December 7th as if nothing ever happened.