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Purdue putdown

Court delivers black eye to black and gold


Purdue University not only lost its appeal in a complaint involving former IPFW Chancellor Michael Wartell, it also got spanked by the appeals court for its legal “tactics.”

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday affirmed a Tippecanoe Circuit Court ruling that the university could not claim attorney-client privilege in refusing to release an investigative report to Wartell, who alleges gender discrimination and harassment in his forced retirement.

In response to Wartell’s complaint, Indianapolis attorney John Trimble was hired as an independent investigator. But after he interviewed the parties involved, drafted a report and submitted it to the board of trustees, Purdue refused to disclose the findings. Officials claimed that, as legal counsel for the university, Trimble’s report was protected by attorney-client privilege.

“Purdue frets that recognizing equitable estoppel as an exception to the attorney-client privilege and the work-product doctrine ‘would have a chilling effect on the very principles on which (they) were founded,’ ” Judge Terry Crone wrote in a footnote. “On the contrary, one would hope that it would have a chilling effect on the tactics used by Purdue in this case.”

If the university appeals the latest ruling to the Indiana Supreme Court after that slapdown, it would appear that Trimble’s report is something that Purdue officials really don’t want Wartell and his attorney to see.