July 30, 1998
Q. What was the basis of the lawsuit?
A. Former Notre Dame assistant football coach Joe Moore on Feb. 27, 19997, filed a federal lawsuit charging the University with age discrimination and retaliation, and head football coach Bob Davie and Blue & Gold Illustrated with defamation. The portions of the suit alleging retaliation by the University and defamation by Davie and Blue & Gold Illustrated all eventually were dismissed, leaving only the age discrimination suit against the University. Moore originally sought $3 million in compensatory damages from the University and Davie, $1 million in compensatory damages from Blue & Gold Illustrated, and $5 million in punitive damages from the defendants. By contrast, the jury in the trial awarded Moore less than $86,000, plus court costs and legal fees and front pay (if any) to be determined by the judge.
Q. Why wasn’t the suit settles before it ever went to court?
A. Judge Allen Sharp ordered the parties to participate in a pre-trial settlement conference. Notre Dame knew the risks inherent in litigation, the distraction it can be to the parties involved, and the possibility that testimony as part of the trial could embarrass the University. For this reason, Notre Dame was willing and ready to arrive at a reasonable settlement of this matter and attempted to do so. However at the pre-trial settlement conference, Joe Moore’s lawyers demanded a settlement of $1.3 million. Moore and his lawyers never indicated a willingness to budge from the sum.
Q. Would the damage to Notre Dame’s image from the trial have warranted payment of the settlement the plaintiff demanded?
A. The disparity between what Joe Moore can receive ultimately and what he had demanded illustrates that his position was unreasonable throughout. There is good reason to believe that whatever the University might have been prepared to pay, there was no guarantee that the information revealed in the trial would not have come out in another forum, in which case the University would have seemed to be engaged in a cover-up.
Q. What effect, if any, will this trial have on Bob Davie and the football program?
A. Mike Rosenthal, one of the 1998 captains, put it succinctly in the July 16 edition of the South Bend Tribune:
“I don’t think this has ever affected this team. All along, we’ve done what we had to do.”
Coach Davie stated that this is a closed chapter. He is enthused about the 1998 team, about the chemistry on his staff, and about the quality of the incoming freshmen. These are the solid factors that will have a positive impact on the football program.