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VOL. 112 | NO. 162 | Thursday, September 10, 1998

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City seeks sanction against UT prof City seeks sanction against UT professor $20,000 penalty involves suit over disparity study Lawyers for the city of Knoxville are seeking a court-imposed $20,000 sanction against a University of Tennessee professor whose lawsuit challenging the citys disparity study was dismissed July 31. The lawsuit by George White Jr. was "frivolous," "baseless" and "not warranted by law or supported by evidence," according to a motion filed last week by John A. Lucas. The city is serving notice that when it is the target of a frivolous lawsuit, the city is doing everything in its power to recover the legal fees it has been forced to incur, and that there are consequences for those who attempt to have sport at city taxpayers expense," Lucas said. The disparity study, sought by Mayor Victor Ashe and authorized by Knoxville City Council, concluded that minorities, women and firms owned by them receive a disproportionately small share of the city's business. City officials are currently working to develop a plan to remedy that situation. White, a professor of African-American studies at UT, claimed in his U.S. District Court lawsuit that he was a victim of conspiracy, breach of contract, defamation, slander and racial discrimination. He also alleged that he was defrauded out of $4,250 for work he did on the study. Defendants were the city of Knoxville and Mason Tillman and Associates, the black-owned firm that conducted the study. The citys motion includes a list of alleged actions by White that are deserving of sanctions, including "his pursuit of discrimination claims while conceding that there was no evidence that he was treated differently because he was black" and "his pursuit of a conspiracy claim while conceding that he could not identify a single conspirator." "The city expended significant resources defending itself against Mr. Whites baseless suit ... (and) twice put Mr. White on notice that it would seek sanctions if he continued to pursue his frivolous suit," the motion stated. "Sanctions are especially important in this instance because Mr. Whites unfounded claims forced the city to incur significant legal costs. Knoxville taxpayers should not pay the price of this frivolous lawsuit."

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