Antonio "Tony The Tiger" Vernón's February 1, 2008 Press Release Page
"Have nunchucks. Will travel." - Antonio "Tony The Tiger" Vernón

Antonio Vernón vs. University of Chicago et al.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, COUNTY DEPARTMENT, LAW DIVISION
Case No. 02 L 015749
Judge Ronald F. Bartkowicz

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February 1, 2008 Press Release

On January 23, 2008, the Court granted plaintiff leave to file our amended expert report, which we have filed. Defendant requested disclosure of the reasons for expert conflict of interest and replacement, but the Court declined to so order.

The court also ordered the U of C to file an expanded privilege log, identifying more precisely their claims of privilege. They have until February 29 to comply. Plaintiff may file any further objections by March 14. The Court will then meet with defense counsel for an in camera discussion of the privilege claims, on March 20, at 4:30 p.m., and rule. There will be a court reporter, and the session will be filed under seal. The Court will review the claims of privilege on a document by document basis. Then, the U of C will have to produce the documents in accordance with the Court's rulings.

The schedule has been revised again. Defendant was scheduled to depose expert by January 8, 2008 and name counter-expert and file report by February 11, 2008. However, the schedule was originally revised so that Plaintiff would have had to depose Defendant's expert by March 4, 2008. However, Defendant now has until March 7 to take plaintiff's expert deposition. Then, they have until April 7 to name an expert and file their report, and plaintiff has until May 7 to take defendant's expert's deposition. Since the court has indicated it would receive a mutually agreed trial date request at any time, Plaintiff has proposed to defendant a draft of an agreed motion for a June trial date. Previously, defendant indicated a preference to set a date any time after March 11th very quickly in order for witnesses to reserve such a date. Plaintiff would also prefer to set a date quickly. The court indicated this case, which started in 2002, will be given scheduling priority over newer cases and it is likely that any date after March 11th would be granted (or cleared if necessary). Defendants, however, have not formally provided any court dates for which they are available.

Defendants filed their response to the motion to reconsider the breach of contract counts related to the free tutoring as needed. Recall this motion was filed relying on various arguments including the doctrine of anticipatory repudiation. The defendant's additional affirmative defenses may again be relevant depending on the ruling. The court has set this for argument Monday Feb. 4 at 8:30 a.m.

On September 14th the court rendered the following decisions on defendant's motion for summary judgement:

Summary judgement denied on counts I, VII & X.

Summary judgement granted on counts II, IV, V, VI, VII, IX.

Counts I and II allege, respectively, breach of express and of implied contract, due to violations of University regulations, and Plaintiff's rights to freedom of inquiry, as set forth in the University manual and handbook. Freedom of inquiry, one of the most highly protected freedoms in an academic community, is the freedom to inquire without penalty or retribution. Counts IV and V allege breach of express and implied contracts for financial aid (especially free tutoring). Counts VII and VIII reallege these breaches of contract with refinements based on discovery to date. Count IX for spoliation of evidence was added for breach of duty to preserve evidence by destroying thousands of potentially relevant documents. Count VI alleges detrimental reliance on the promises of the University. Count X is for tortious interference with contract.

The court had previously ruled on September 5, 2007 that, with respect to the damages arising from defendant's tortious interference with contract, expert testimony as to career damages will be limited to plaintiff's lost income in his first year of employment, had defendants awarded his Ph.D..

Rulings on counts IV and V, which involve breach of contract for financial aid (especially free tutoring), warrant explanation. Defendant originally promised the Plaintiff "free tutoring as needed." Subsequently, however, the University imposed limits on the tutoring budget, based on false pretenses. The second-year budget, which was based on tutoring at $60/hour, and not the $100/hour rate he had paid tutors in the first year, allowed for only 60% of the first-year expenditures. Plaintiff could not secure the needed tutoring at the billing rates necessitated by his reduced budget. The Court ruled that the University did not breach its obligations even though the University made it clear in advance that it would pay no more than the reduced budget amounts it had forced on Plaintiff. The Court ruled that Plaintiff could not establish a breach because he did not spend all the available funds, then ask the University for more, because the refusal to provide tutoring as needed at that point would be a breach of the contract. At the reduced rates, plaintiff was unable to obtain tutoring in some classes and not able to entice the best tutors in others. Due to the fact that in some classes he was unable to obtain tutoring, his expenditures were greatly reduced. Nonetheless, plaintiff attempted to learn the materials without a tutor and in the time allotted ended up just short of the academic requirements for advancing to candidacy. If plaintiff had made one letter grade higher in any of six courses, he would have met the 2003-04 academic requirements for advancement. Plaintiff contends that the inability to obtain a tutor in some classes and the inability to retain the best tutors in others adversely affected him. The court has ruled that since plaintiff did not exceed the budget the question of whether his tutoring as needed promise was breached is not as a matter of law suitable for evaluation by a trier of fact.

The court has determined plaintiff's entitlement to attorneys' fees and costs due to the belated production of the 1200 documents. The magnitude of the award is at issue in the fee petition and a refiled petition is awaited. The pending fee petition continues to be set the over indefinitely (since June 5th) with instructions to concentrate on getting the case ready for trial.

The court continues to reserve ruling on defendants' petition for duplicate costs arising from the plaintiff's 2nd amended complaint.

In his suit against the University, three claims are now at issue. Vernón is represented by Elaine Siegel (ELAINE K.B. SIEGEL & ASSOC., P..C., 39 South LaSalle Street, Suite 617, Chicago, Illinois 60603, (312) 236-8088, EKBSiegel@aol.com).

Vernón, a kukkiwon certified black belt, is one of Chicago's most prominent non-projectile weapons practitioners and most popular beach personalities. He often performs using the nickname "Tony the Tiger". You may have seen him perform July 3rd in the Wilmette Parks District Independence Day Celebration. Highlights videos of his summer tour are available for purchase. He was the 1st middleweight collegiate athlete to deadlift 600 lbs. without using steroids. His father, Dr. Carlos Vernón (1937-2003), was the 1957 Athlete of the Year for the Republic of Panama and is the greatest sprinter in Latin American history. He ran a 10.2 when the world record was 10.1.

Donations to his legal fund by check and money order, at Vernón Legal Fund, 1507 E. 53rd. St. - #608, Chicago, IL 60615 are welcomed. Donations by credit card and electronic payment can be made via free paypal accounts (from www.paypal.com) to vernonlegalfund@gmail.com or vernonlegalfund@yahoo.com.

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