A jury must decide whether former Southern University system President Ralph Slaughter owes $475,000 to the private SU System Foundation, an appeals court ruled in reversing a Baton Rouge judge who ordered Slaughter to repay the money.
The money includes $400,000 in salary supplements that Slaughter received and $75,000 in foundation money that he used to pay lawyer Jill Craft after he sued Southern over his 2009 dismissal.
“We look forward to having a trial and telling our side of the story to a jury,” Slaughter’s attorney, John McLindon, said Friday. “In the interim, I hope the Southern University Foundation would consider dismissing their lawsuit against Dr. Slaughter.”
Foundation attorney Preston Castille said Thursday’s decision by a three-judge panel of the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal will be appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Castille maintains the payments to Slaughter were prohibited transactions.
The foundation — the university’s private fundraising arm — contends in its 2009 lawsuit against Slaughter that he received the salary supplements without foundation board approval, even though the Southern Board of Supervisors authorized the payments.
The foundation argues its board of directors never approved the salary supplement payments and that the foundation was not a party to Slaughter’s employment contract.
In a pair of rulings in 2012, state District Judge Tim Kelley ordered Slaughter to repay the foundation $475,000.
In its unanimous decision, the 1st Circuit panel said Kelley determined Slaughter breached his fiduciary duty to the foundation by allowing foundation funds to inure to his personal benefit.
“The trial court did not consider the reasons why Dr. Slaughter acted as he did,” Circuit Judge Michael McDonald wrote for the panel that included Circuit Judges John Pettigrew and Ernest Drake.
“We find that the evidence presented demonstrates there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether Dr. Slaughter breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation,” the panel stated.
Kelley also ruled last year that Slaughter intended to defraud the foundation by transferring much of his estate to his wife in 2012 while the foundation was seeking to recover the $475,000 from him.
That ruling was not appealed.
Slaughter is suing the Southern Board of Supervisors for wrongful termination.