Dec. 9, 2004

Contact: Lynn Bretz, University Relations, (785) 864-8866.

Judge awards bank $80,000 in Watkins Trust legal case final decision

LAWRENCE -- Douglas County District Court Judge Jack Murphy today awarded the Bank of America attorney fees of $80,000 out of a total request of more than $283,500 in the final decision of a 2001 lawsuit over the operation of a trust for Watkins and Miller scholarship halls on the University of Kansas Lawrence campus.

The lawsuit was dismissed in February at plaintiff’s cost after the plaintiffs -- current and former residents of Watkins Hall -- last fall abandoned all of their allegations and claims of wrongdoing against the bank and KU.

“ We are glad that the litigation is over,” said Lynn Bretz, director of University Relations. “Unfortunately, the cost of defending against the unsupported claims from petitioners who initiated the suit will fall on future residents of Miller and Watkins scholarship halls.”

The university had asked the judge to require the plaintiffs to pay the bank’s costs to avoid depleting the value of the Elizabeth Watkins Trust. A decrease will likely force the university to raise rental rates.

The Bank of America had asked for permission to recover its legal costs from defending the 2001 lawsuit that alleged mismanagement of the trust. The Bank of America is the trustee of the trust fund.

The university uses the trust income to help provide for the upkeep, maintenance and operation of both halls. The court did not find any mismanagement of funds by either the bank as trustee or the university as recipient of the trust.

The university did not seek payment for any of its attorney fees and court costs. The plaintiffs had sought $450,000 and payment of their attorney fees by the university.

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