Federal judge rules with UI in Mills lawsuit

BY DI STAFF | OCTOBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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A U.S. District Court judge ruled Wednesday that University of Iowa President Sally Mason did not violate the due-process rights of a former UI general counsel when she fired him in September 2008, according to online court documents.

Judge Robert Pratt ruled Marcus Mills was an “at-will” employee, meaning Mason did not violate his rights when he was fired without a pre-termination hearing.

The UI fired Mills in connection with his handling of a 2007 assault involving two Hawkeye football players at Hillcrest Residence Hall.

According to the 45-page judgment, a separate investigation into the handling of the incident by the Stolar Partnership found Mills’ “responses to the incident were consistent with a culture of a lack of transparency at the University General Counsel’s Office and likely contributed to allegations of a university cover-up.”

The Stolar report further alleged Mills had a conflict of interest in acting as the UI’s general counsel and serving as a link with the then-alleged victim’s family.

In response to the report, Mason said, “failing a student who asks for our help is unacceptable.

Failing to be transparent and accountable to the Board of Regents, and ultimately to the people of Iowa, is also unacceptable …”

Vice President of Student Services Phil Jones was also fired in connection with the handling of the sexual assault. In February, he appealed a district court ruling that dismissed his case.

Mills further alleged in his lawsuit that statements made by Mason, then-Regent Bonnie Campbell, and UI Vice President for Finance Douglas True stigmatized him. However, Pratt rejected each of the his separate claims against their various statements.

After filing his lawsuit in 2010, Mills told The Daily Iowan he was “disappointed” with the way his 17-year career at the UI ended.

“I tried to work with [the UI], and we really didn’t have any luck,” he said.

— by Brent Griffiths

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