Leach case strengths & weakness analyzed by lawyer Stephen Fox - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/18/10

Leach case strengths & weakness analyzed by lawyer Stephen Fox

By James Clark | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The courtroom battle between Mike Leach and Texas Tech resumes again Wednesday morning.  The two sides have a hearing on how much evidence Leach can collect from Texas Tech in a legal process called "discovery."

The legal fight started when player Adam James and his family accused Leach of mistreating him.  Leach denied the claim but was fired December 30th anyway.  Texas Tech is expected to again re-assert its claim that neither Mike Leach nor anyone else has the right to sue the university for breach of contract.

NewsChannel 11 talked to an attorney from Dallas who specializes in employment issues.

"He [Leach] is entitled to some due process from Texas Tech," says Stephen Fox who works for the law firm of Fish & Richardson.   He says ordinarily Texas Tech cannot be sued by anybody, not even by Mike Leach, because of a legal concept called sovereign immunity. 

It's kind of like the Superman movies.  The character "Superman" is immune to everything with the exception of kryptonite.  Similarly, Texas Tech is immune to just about everything but not a violation of constitutional rights.  Leach makes a lot of claims in court records, including a violation of constitutional rights.

"I think he will be able to make a strong case that he has a property interest right in his job," says Fox.   Remember, under the Constitution, the government cannot take away your property without due process.  And so if you think of Leach's job as being his personal property, Fox says that might be the kryptonite that gives Texas Tech some trouble. 

In addition to that, Texas Tech gave Leach a contractual promise that he could have 10 days to cure or fix any violations; for example, an allegation that he might have mistreated a player.

"And it doesn't seem to me that they've sufficiently provided him with the right to exercise his cure."

This is not an open and shut case according to Fox. If Texas Tech can show that Mike Leach violated his contract then that hurts Leach's case, even if the university also violated the contract at the same time.   

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Coverage of Mike Leach Termination
Just days before the Alamo Bowl, Mike Leach was first suspended and then terminated as head coach of the Texas Tech football team. Click here for continuing coverage.
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