Former UTC lecturer refiles lawsuit

Former UTC lecturer refiles lawsuit

December 22nd, 2012 by Todd South in Local Regional News

A former UTC lecturer has filed a new lawsuit against four professors, alleging they retaliated against her and eventually pushed not to renew her annual contract after she had worked at the school for eight years.

Paige Keown first filed a lawsuit against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the four professors, all supervisors to her or her superiors in the English Department, in August.

That lawsuit was dismissed by Circuit Court Judge Neil Thomas III in November because it did not state a claim of "gross mismanagement" "gross waste" or "gross abuse of authority," as required under the law.

Keown said Thursday that she refiled the lawsuit with more specific citations of events that occurred in her termination and is representing herself in the legal matter.

She is seeking $2.5 million from the four defendants for future loss of wages and alleged defamation in their reports to other faculty about her performance.

It is UTC policy not to comment on pending lawsuits.

The former lecturer claims that a long-running but discreet retaliation against her by then department head Verbie Lovron Prevost began in 2004, a year after Keown had reported allegations of discrimination against black children at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library where she worked in the children's department.

Keown wrote a letter, included in court documents, to Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, claiming that she resigned from the library job when staff at the facility continued to monitor black children and limit their access to Internet websites while not monitoring white children.

The UTC connection began with her work under Prevost, who she claims was a strong supporter of the library and through her supervisor position stymied Keown's efforts to teach certain classes at the university.

Keown also names Joe Wilferth, Susan North and Chris Stuart in the lawsuit and seeks either supervisors or members of the one-year faculty review committee that later voted not to renew her contract.

Keown claims Prevost and Wilferth made false allegations that she had attendance problems and issues with students to affect her performance evaluations.

Over time those moves helped influence her contract's termination, Keown claims.