A Baton Rouge state judge refused Monday to throw out LSU's lawsuit against former Tigers defensive coordinator John Chavis, saying a jury should decide whether either side breached his contract.
District Judge Tim Kelley agreed with LSU's attorneys that a three-year contract Chavis signed after the 2011 season, and an amended contract that he never signed, are "fundamentally the same on the issues involved."
Chavis' lead attorney, Jill Craft, said after Monday's hearing that she'll ask the state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal to review and reverse Kelley's ruling.
Craft argued during the hearing — the first in the contentious case since LSU head coach Les Miles was fired Sept. 25 — that Chavis' three-year deal, which stipulated he would owe LSU a $400,000 buyout if he left the school before Jan. 31, 2015, is void because of the alterations the university later made to the contract in 2013.
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"He didn't breach it because he didn't sign it," Craft argued to Kelley, adding that the two contracts are fundamentally different.
Chavis, who abruptly left LSU in December 2014 to become the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, was not in the courtroom. Chavis and Texas A&M contend he did not officially begin work there until Feb. 13, 2015.
Chavis, however, is seen in photographs recruiting for Texas A&M in January 2015 and posing for photos with prospects while donning Aggies gear.
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Lawyer Harry "Skip" Philips Jr., who represents the LSU Board of Supervisors in the case, said Chavis' three-year contract and the amended contract contained the same $500,000 base salary as well as the same start and end dates.
Philips acknowledged the "wording" of the buyout changed, but not the "substance" of it.
LSU, in filings this week, admitted to altering the contract of former LSU defensive coordin…
"It didn't change the substance of the obligations," he argued. "It's not fundamentally different as Mr. Chavis claims. I think the intent was clear."
"We're squarely within the time period that would require him to pay $400,000," Philips added.
Texas A&M is responsible for Chavis' buyout, according to his contract with the Aggies.
Chavis claims LSU owes him more than $200,000 in unpaid vacation time and academic performance bonuses, plus another $445,000 in penalty wages.
LSU sued him in February 2015, when he also filed his own lawsuit against LSU in Texas. That suit was dismissed last year.
There is no trial date set on the Baton Rouge case.