Taylor Porter is asking a federal judge to toss the claims against it made in a civil RICO and Title IX lawsuit filed earlier this month against the firm and LSU by Associate Athletic Director Sharon Lewis.
In its motion to dismiss, filed earlier today in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, attorneys for Taylor Porter call Lewis’ claims “patently frivolous” and describe them as a “transparent, opportunistic effort to capitalize on the recent media coverage surrounding the Husch Blackwell report for her personal gain.”
The Husch Blackwell report, released March 5, has created a firestorm of controversy at LSU and beyond by highlighting the university’s mishandling of complaints of sexual violence and misconduct under the federal Title IX statute. Those include details of Taylor Porter’s 2013 investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against former head football coach Les Miles.
The allegations, by two then-student workers, were kept under wraps for more than seven years.
In her lawsuit, Lewis alleges LSU retaliated against her at the expense of her professional advancement after she raised concerns about its handling of Title IX complaints. Her suit charges that the retaliation rises to the level of a RICO violation, and is, itself, a Title IX violation.
But in today’s court filings, attorneys for Taylor Porter say even putting aside that “much of the Husch Blackwell report is inaccurate and that much of the sensational media attention has been misguided,” the suit should be seen as “an employer retaliation case against LSU … not a RICO case or a Title IX case against the Taylor Porter defendants.”
The federal RICO statute is typically used to prosecute large criminal enterprises or those who have engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity.
“Lewis’ unsupported claim that LSU and the Taylor Porter defendants undertook an elaborate, multiyear scheme to defraud her is not plausible. … The allegation that Taylor Porter committed a RICO violation against Lewis by representing LSU in 2013 in an internal investigation … is even less plausible,” court documents say.
The motion also challenges Lewis’ claims that she was discriminated against under Title IX, noting that “there is no cause of action available to her for alleged employment discrimination or hostile work enviornment on the basis of race or gender under Title IX.”
Lewis, whose job duties put her in charge of football recruiting and alumni relations, named the LSU Board of Supervisors, the board’s athletics committee and several current and former LSU administrators in her suit, as well as Taylor Porter.
She is seeking damages of more than $50 million.
Taylor Porter is represented in the case by Walters, Papillon, Thomas, Cullens and also Jones Walker.