After two months of legal sparring, a court date has been set in the on-going legal fight between LSU and former defensive coordinator John Chavis.
A judge could rule to dismiss LSU’s lawsuit against Chavis at a hearing at 9:30 a.m. June 29 in the 19th Judicial Court in East Baton Rouge Parish, court records show.
Chavis wants the court to throw out LSU’s lawsuit against him or, at least, temporarily stop it until Chavis’ own suit against the university — in a Texas court — is resolved. He’s arguing lis pendens, an exception that protects against duplicate litigation existing at the same time and seeking similar, if not the same, relief.
Chavis, now the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, filed the exception April 15, and the court date was set last week. It’s the first court appearance in a litigation saga that began with LSU and Chavis filing dueling suits against one another Feb. 27 regarding the coach’s buyout.
The school says he owes $400,000 for breaking his contract early, while Chavis and A&M claim he does not.
In the April 15 filing, Chavis says his suit in Texas was filed first — by three hours — and is “identical” to LSU’s suit against him.
“This present action involves identical parties in identical capacities and identical issues and claims,” Chavis argued in the April 15 exception filing.
Judge Timothy Kelley has been assigned to the case after another judge, William A. Morvant, recused himself because of a “conflict of interest.” Morvant is an adjunct professor at LSU Law School.
Chavis will likely not be present for the hearing.
Meanwhile, in Texas, Chavis’ attorneys have filed a motion for remand after LSU sent the case against it to federal court. They’re requesting a judge send the coach’s lawsuit against LSU back to the 272nd District Court in Brazos County. The site of Texas A&M, College Station, is in Brazos County.
The divorce between the coach and the school — at times messy — began in December, when contract extension talks broke down. Chavis says in court documents that he left the program after six years because he refused to sign a new deal that included the “Les Miles clause.” The clause “would allow LSU to terminate Chavis’ employment in the event Les Miles’ employment (is) terminated with LSU,” documents say.
Chavis left for Southeastern Conference Western Division rival Texas A&M. Last year, A&M and LSU met for the first time in what is expected to be an annual season-ending duel.
The saga between Chavis and LSU has no end in sight. There is a disconnect between the two regarding the $400,000 buyout the school says Chavis owes for breaching his contract. The two parties have made bitter filings since the lawsuits were filed in late February.
LSU has filed motions to have Chavis’ suit dismissed on grounds of jurisdiction, arguing that it belongs in Louisiana. The school also took a swipe at A&M’s struggling defense in one document in March, saying the program “was in dire need of defensive help.”
LSU served Chavis with a motion of discovery March 13, seeking answers for his involvement with Texas A&M before A&M officially announced his hiring Feb. 13.
Chavis, meanwhile, claims the school owes him more than $205,000 in unpaid vacation days and that LSU unlawfully doctored his 2012 contract, making it void.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.