The judge presiding over former USF football coach Jim Leavitt’s wrongful termination suit against the University ruled in Tuesday’s hearing that the school must release unredacted interview investigation notes to his attorneys.
The school has more time, though, to provide documentation showing why hundreds of other records shouldn’t become part of the case.
Judge Bernard Silver ruled in Hillsborough County Circuit Court that the University must go beyond what it previously made available to Leavitt’s attorneys in June by providing notes with few omissions, except for instances where students’ medical information is listed. The notes cannot be released to any third party outside of the case.
Silver also gave university attorney Richard McCrea two weeks to provide a privilege log that details why 800 documents sought by Leavitt’s attorneys should be protected by attorney-client or other privileges.
Wil Florin, Leavitt’s attorney, said he is pleased with the outcome of the hearing.
“It was a good day. It took a long time for us to finally get to this point,” he said after the hearing, according to the St. Petersburg Times. “I don’t understand why, if USF has nothing to hide, why they were fighting so hard to prevent us from getting these documents so the truth gets out.”
University spokesman Michael Hoad said by phone Tuesday night that he thought the hearing resulted in a balanced ruling that played out as he anticipated.
“It’s not a defeat,” he said. “It’s a very level-headed ruling, and it basically says what we’ve been saying, which is if a judge orders it, we’ll produce it, but if it’s not ordered … then student information is private and we won’t produce it.”
Leavitt is trying to recoup the more than $7 million remaining on his contract that he would have been owed had he been fired without cause. USF fired him with cause in January after its internal investigation determined that he slapped then walk-on running back Joel Miller in the face during halftime of a game in November.
Hoad said the case is in its early stages and will likely continue for some time.
“This is just one of many small steps along the way,” he said. “This isn’t the turning point in the case by any means.”