A week after New Mexico-based attorney Dennis Montoya filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque on behalf of former wide receivers coach J.B. Gerald, alleging Gerald was assaulted, discriminated and retaliated against after a Sept. 20 physical altercation, UNM head football coach Mike Locksley and UNM’s Board of Regents have been served with the complaint and summons, Montoya said.
A summon puts a defendant on notice that he or she is being sued. The defendant(s) then have to either appear in court or acknowledge in writing the opposing party’s intention to sue, according to several online sources. Now that they’ve been served, Locksley and UNM’s Board of Regents have 20 days to respond, Montoya said in an e-mail.
As of July 31, the University said through spokeswoman Susan McKinsey it had not received a copy of Gerald’s complaint. Yet, in dismissing Gerald’s allegations, the University said the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s investigation failed to uncover evidence that it violated that law, leading Montoya to state that EEOC investigation findings are “superficial” and not admissible in court.
As part of the complaint, Gerald will pursue monetary compensation. So far, Montoya said, neither party has approached the other about settling the matter out of court. In a prior interview, Montoya hinted at the possibility of a trial, saying that Athletics personnel, staff, and former and current coaches could be called to testify.
“If UNM is righteously indignant and treats this as some sort of nuisance lawsuit, then I don’t think we’ll settle,” Montoya said. “I think the case is going to see the light of a court room, and maybe it should.”
For several months, Gerald’s legal camp was reticent about the matter, other than sending a demand letter drafted by Gerald’s former Maryland-based attorney Julian Haffner, requesting $500,000 that was subsequently denied by the University, until Montoya, in a number of interviews, sparked renewed interest in the dormant-but-not-dead issue.
Whether coincidental, all of this comes at a time when the Lobos, who went 1-11 overall under Locksley in his first year, have openend up fall training camp. UNM finished its second day of fall practice Friday.
The Lobos have two more in-town practices, before shifting their camp to Ruidoso from Aug. 10-21. On some level, the move could provide insulation from a cascade of magnified media scrutiny surrounding the looming litigation, though Athletics Director Paul Krebs has stated publicly that the move is financially motivated.
Documents obtained by the Daily Lobo under the Inspection of Public Records Act show the Lobos’ projected training camp budget at $95,555, with $20,000 allocated toward incurred Albuquerque expenses, which presumably consist of lodging and feeding student-athletes, while the rest will go toward expenses associated with the trip to Ruidoso.
The past two years, the Lobos’ training camp budget exceeded the six-figure mark, with UNM shelling out $121,847 in 2009 and $106,172 in 2008, according to documents provided by UNM’s Office of the Custodian of Public Record. By comparison, the change of venue could save UNM a minimum of about $10,000, but that could be subject to change.