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UMD Asks Court for New Trial or Reduced Award to Shannon Miller

Baihly Warfield
Updated: March 13, 2019 09:24 PM

DULUTH, Minn. - Attorneys for the University of Minnesota have filed a motion in the Shannon Miller case asking the court to throw out the jury verdict, grant a new trial or reduce the amount awarded to the former women's hockey coach. 

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"Based on the law and facts, we have presented a strong motion and we look forward to the Court's consideration of it," Senior Associate General Counsel Tim Pramas with the U of M wrote. 

In the motion, the university's attorneys wrote that Miller's legal team "sought to provoke a jury verdict based on passion and sympathy rather than on the facts."

Miller won a civil suit against the university in which she alleged discrimination based on sex and retaliation for Title IX complaints. She was awarded $3.7 million by a jury and another $460,000 by Judge Patrick Schiltz. 

"...the jury's award of $3 million for garden-variety emotional distress was grossly excessive," Pramas wrote in the post-trial motion. 

UMD officials say they stand by their decision not to extend Miller's coaching contract.

"Our decision to allow Coach Miller's fixed term contract to expire was based on the best interests of the program and student-athletes," spokeswoman Lynne Williams wrote. "We stand by that decision and respectfully disagree with the jury's verdict." 

The university argues four categories of evidence allowed in court misled the jury:

  • Miller's pay compared to the men's hockey coach's pay
  • Examples of industry-wide discrimination against female coaches
  • Complaints Miller made before current decision makers held their positions
  • UMD Athletics' finances

Williams said Miller's lawyers' response is due April 17, and UMD's reply to that response is due May 8. There is no timeline for Judge Schiltz's decision. 

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Baihly Warfield

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