| Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Jan. 21--An Amarillo appellate court on Friday dealt a heavy blow to Mike Leach's civil lawsuit against Texas Tech in a ruling that could ultimately land the case on the Texas Supreme Court's doorstep.
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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out an earlier decision by a state district court permitting the lawsuit to move forward on grounds Tech may have violated the coach's contract when it fired him in late 2009.
Although this newest ruling leaves Leach the option of bringing the case back to 99th District Court Judge Bill Sowder to dispute whether Leach's constitutional due-process rights were violated, the appellate court ruled Leach can no longer seek monetary damages from the university.
Dicky Grigg, an attorney for Tech, hailed the ruling as a "great victory" for the university.
"This is what we've been saying all along, that legally and factually they don't have a claim for breach of contract against Tech", he said. "Basically, the court has just affirmed that we were right."
But Leach's legal camp, in a Friday statement, vowed to take the 7th Circuit's ruling to the state's supreme court, where they are imploring the judiciary to review the fairness of the "archaic" sovereign immunity doctrine.
"The doctrine permits a Texas state institution to deny a person's written contractual rights and steal his hard-earned labor while paying nothing,' the statement reads. "In essence, this is nothing more than university-sanctioned theft of a person's labors and contractual rights."
Leach's lawyers had claimed Tech waived its right to sovereign immunity by implicitly taking responsibility for its own actions through its operating procedure.
In Amarillo, judges disagreed.
"Though some may find it fun to engage in creative legal gymnastics to achieve a desired end, we opt not to join them", 7th Circuit chief justice Brian Quinn wrote in the opinion.
But several times in the ruling, Quinn questions the logic of the state's sometimes contradictory laws and precedent regarding sovereign immunity, but he insists his court is not the proper venue to debate the issue.
Quinn cites another sovereign immunity case involving Texas Southern University in which a court ruled that the university could, in fact, waive sovereign immunity through its conduct, Quinn notes that either the court "simply is wrong" or that the Supreme Court's previous rulings were "inaccurate."
"In either case, it is a matter for the Supreme Court (or Texas Legislature) to resolve, and we have no choice but to abide by their decision", Quinn writes.
Check back later for more on this story.
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