A few months ago Art Rogers called me and said someone from SWBTS had emphatically declared to him that the Klouda suit had been dismissed by the judge. I told him that it had not happened, and anyone who said it had was mistaken. Art informed me that the attitude of the person who told him the suit had been dismissed was one of absolute certainty. This past Friday the actual truth about the Klouda case was revealed.
The federal judge in charge has denied all of Southwestern's motions to dismiss the suit. Further, Klouda's second petition has been granted by the judge. Contrary to some who acted as if this case had no merit, the courts have indicated that there is sufficient reason for the case to proceed.
Judge McBryde's ruling can be interpreted several ways, but I think Matt's comment at SBC Outpost succinctly details the implications.
This is great news for her and terrible for Patterson.
Patterson was trying to get the lawsuit thrown out before having to engage in the discovery process. Now Klouda’s lawyers will have the opportunity to legally compel Patterson to turn over all kinds of evidence. There’s virtually no limit to what they can make him hand over. As long as what she’s asking for relates to her claims or Patterson’s defenses, he has to hand over the evidence (Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1)).
There are several types of discovery:
1. Interrogatories - Klouda’s lawyers can send a list of questions to Patterson that he must answer. One of the questions is guaranteed to be along the lines of, “Name every person with whom you in any way communicated concerning the potential dismissal of Dr. Klouda.”
2. Depositions - Klouda’s lawyers will be able to take depositions of Dr. Patterson and any other people they want to depose. A deposition is sworn testimony usually taking place in the lawyer’s office. The person being deposed is generally not permitted to refuse to answer any questions. Deposition testimony will only become public if the case goes to trial.
3. Production of documents - This one will be huge. Patterson will have to turn over all emails, letters, and any other documents that relate in any way to the situation with Klouda. Even if he has deleted emails, the court will probably require him to retrieve the deleted messages from backup files or through other means.
Patterson is also entitled to discover evidence. After both parties have had a chance to discover evidence, Patterson will probably move for the case to be thrown out on summary judgment. I’m oversimplifying things a little, but basically the judge will have to decide if there is any possibility that a reasonable jury could side with Klouda. If so, then Patterson’s motion for summary judgment will be denied. Klouda’s lawyers can use all the evidence from the discovery process (such as Patterson’s testimony, Klouda’s testimony, incriminating emails, etc.) to oppose the motion for summary judgment.
I think there’s virtually no chance of this case getting to trial. If Klouda survives summary judgment, then Patterson and SWBTS will probably settle. I just can’t see Patterson being willing to testify in open court.
I agree with everything Matt has said except for his next to last statement above, "I think there's virtually no chance of this case getting to trial."
I believe there is virtually no chance this case will not go to trial. This ruling virtually guarantees a jury trial in Texas before a courtroom of Dr. Klouda's peers. I would not want the job of SWBTS's defense attorneys. They must convince a jury that a woman, educated by Southwestern in Hebrew, hired by Southwestern to teach Hebrew, highly published in academia on the subject of Hebrew, and an exemplary and loyal employee of Southwestern was justly terminated by a new administration because she was a woman in a role reserved for men only - and it was a trustee mistake, albeit a unanimous one, to hire her originally.
Southwestern's trustees, if they knew of Klouda's removal, as claimed by trustee chairman Dr. Vann McClain, should have given long and careful thought about her removal for gender reasons. Or, as I believe, if the trustees of Southwestern had no clue that a female professor of Hebrew was being removed for gender reasons, then the trustees better do something very, very quickly to rectify their lack of oversight.
Either way, Southwestern will soon regret the day when they released probably the finest Hebrew scholar the Southern Baptist Convention has ever produced because she was a woman. One of these days trustees of our SBC agencies will learn you don't make decisions that affect the lives of people based upon a narrow ideology that is not held by the majority of Southern Baptists.
I just wish that leaders would begin to actively listen to Southern Baptists on these matters instead of being forced to listen to a judge.
In His Grace,