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Judge limits scope of USF bias lawsuit

The judge says the university president and USF Foundation cannot be added as defendants.

© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 30, 2001

TAMPA -- When the first of nine discrimination cases against the University of South Florida and former women's basketball coach Jerry Ann Winters goes to trial in April, USF President Judy Genshaft and the USF Foundation won't be among the defendants.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday signed an order this week denying a request by the lawyer for the plaintiffs that Genshaft and the foundation be added to the lawsuit, calling such a move unnecessary.

Merryday expressed concern that it would cause further delays in a case he characterized as "rancorous." The judge has admonished lawyers to stop sniping at each other.

Jonathan Alpert, the lawyer representing the eight black players and a former coach had argued to add Genshaft and the foundation so his client would have access to full compensation.

But Merryday wrote in his order that plaintiff Dione Smith's claim, the first to be filed, already entitles her to "complete relief."

Alpert said Thursday that he understood Merryday's concerns about delaying the trial and called the judge's decision "very thoughtful" and "well-reasoned."

Lawyers for USF had argued that adding defendants would further complicate the case.

USF general counsel Noreen Segrest Thursday expressed satisfaction with Merryday's order.

The players allege that Winters segregated her players on overnight trips and punished black players more harshly than whites. They are suing Winters and the university, accusing it of trying to cover up the alleged discrimination.

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