June 18, 2004

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

Federal court of appeals upholds rulings for KU in 2 cases

LAWRENCE -- The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has unanimously upheld two lower court rulings for the University of Kansas, rejecting appeals by two former faculty members.

In the first case, the federal appeals court backed the 2003 decision by the U.S. District Court in Topeka to dismiss all claims Michael Cuenca had filed against KU; Michael Kautsch, former dean of KU's William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications; and James Gentry, the school's current dean. The district court also granted the university recovery of its costs of defending the lawsuit from the plaintiff.

Cuenca, an assistant professor of journalism at KU from 1994 until 2001, had alleged discrimination of race and national origin and retaliation in the university's decision to deny him promotion and tenure in 2000. But the district court ruled that Cuenca's allegations "fail to raise a material question of fact." The federal appellate court ruled this week that Cuenca "failed to present relevant statistical data or other direct evidence sufficient to carry his summary judgment burden."

The case is Cuenca vs. the University of Kansas, Myron A. Kautsch and James K. Gentry, Case No. 98-4180-SAC. The federal ruling is available online at www.kscourts.org/ca10/cases/2004/06/03-3145.htm.

In the second case, the federal court upheld a 2002 decision by Judge Julie A. Robinson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to reject a retaliation claim by Cynthia Annett, a former assistant professor. Annett had claimed that the university did not hire her as assistant director of Equal Opportunity, did not give her adjunct faculty status and did not grant her principal investigator status in retaliation for a gender discrimination lawsuit she filed after being denied tenure. In her previous gender discrimination lawsuit, a jury ruled in favor of the university and denied her claim. In her ruling, Robinson stated that Annett failed to show that she suffered an adverse employment action or that the university's reason for not hiring Annett was invalid.

The case is Annett vs. the University of Kansas No. 03-3069. The federal ruling is available online at www.kscourts.org/ca10/cases/2004/06/03-3069.htm.

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