Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

August 23, 2013

Supreme Court affirms U of I firing

Steve Woodhouse
Journal-Express

Des Moines — The Iowa Supreme Court has affirmed a Johnson County District Court decision in a wrongful termination suit stemming from the handling of sexual assault allegations at the University of Iowa in 2007. 

Phillip Jones, former Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Services at the University of Iowa was fired, in part, because of a report filed by Stolar Partnership, a law firm hired by the Board of Regents to investigate the University's actions following a sexual assault complaint filed by a student. 

Jones proceeded to file a wrongful termination suit. The District Court granted summary judgement in favor of all named defendants in the case. Jones appealed the decision, claiming that he was denied proper discovery when the District Court Judge would not allow him to introduce hundreds of communications between Stolar and the Regents. These communications had been deemed privileged. 

"We recognize the difficulty faced by a party appealing the denial of a motion to compel. It is impossible for the party to know with exactitude the content of the information sought or the extent to which it may have supported the party’s claims or defenses. Nevertheless, at a minimum, we must require Jones to advance some explanation of how he expected the withheld communications to support the claims alleged in this lawsuit," Justice Zager wrote in the court's ruling. 

The 36-page ruling can be read at http://www.iowacourts.gov/Supreme_Court/Recent_Opinions/20130823/12-0292.pdf