Shannon Miller award increases to $4.21 million

Photo courtesy UMD Athletics

Photo courtesy UMD Athletics

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz awarded former UMD women’s hockey coach Shannon Miller $461,278 in front pay and future benefits. Her request to be reinstated as coach was denied. Miller was requesting reinstatement or compensation for lost wages, which added up to around $3 million.

Student tuition will not be affected by these rulings.

“I am grateful for the federal judges decision,” Miller said in a statement to The Bark Wednesday. “It shows he supports the jury verdict and award, as well as agreed I am owed some future wage loss. It’s been a long and difficult journey, but today is a day of gratitude.”

This decision follows the $3.74 million dollars awarded to Miller last March after a jury found she was subject to sex discrimination when her contract was not renewed for the 2014-2015 season. Miller was employed for 16 years at the university.

“We are encouraged that the judge denied the request for reinstatement and awarded plaintiff only a small fraction of the nearly three million dollars she requested,” Senior associate general counsel Tim Pramas said in a statement. “We are not yet at the stage of the proceedings where the judge assesses the legal propriety of the verdict. Now that this motion has been decided, it is our intent to proceed with filing post-trial motions seeking to overturn the jury verdict or at least reduce the amount of the award. Those motions are due by March 13.”

“In entering judgment, the Court must accept the jury’s determinations regarding liability, back pay, past benefits, and other past damages,” Judge Schiltz said in a footnote. “UMD will undoubtedly file post‐judgment motions to challenge some of the jury’s determinations, and the Court will then decide whether to uphold those determinations.”

According to Lynne Williams, Director of University Marketing and Public Relations, the university is now going to file post trial motions.

“We will be asking the judge to either set aside the jury verdict or to lower the amount of money the jury awarded [last March],” Williams said. “[UMD] could walk away from this right now and pay her out, but we don’t believe that [the ruling] is the right decision and we are going to continue to fight it.”

According to Williams, the university plans to file their post trial motions by the Mar. 13 deadline, saying this case will “play out for a while.”

Williams stated that this is where it's a great benefit to be a part of the University of Minnesota system. The University Board of Regents has reserve funds set aside for occasions such as these.

UMD will have to pay a portion of the initial cost which is around $10,000. Williams stated that the department responsible, UMD Athletics, will be charged that amount. The rest will be covered by the board of regents.

With Wednesday's ruling, and the awards Miller received in Mar. 2018, the total now owed is $4.21 million.

This is a developing story.

NewsZack Benz