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Justices let stand order that Purdue release report on gender bias claim

September 8, 2014

The Indiana Supreme Court has denied Purdue University’s request to appeal court orders that it release a report investigating a fired chancellor’s alleged gender discrimination and harassment complaint.

Justices denied a transfer petition in Purdue University v. Michael A. Wartell, 79A02-1304-PL-342, though Justices Brent Dickson and Mark Massa believed the case warranted review.

The Court of Appeals in March affirmed a Tippecanoe Circuit Court ruling that Purdue release independent investigator John Trimble’s report to former Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne chancellor Michael Wartell. The university argued attorney-client privilege and the work-product doctrine to try to block the release.

Wartell filed a formal complaint in 2011 alleging harassment and discrimination against then-Purdue President France Cordova, claiming among other things that Cordova pointed to a picture of Wartell during a meeting and said, “I am going to replace this one with a woman.” After he reached mandatory retirement age of 65, Wartell was replaced by current chancellor Vicky Carwein. Wartell argued Purdue unevenly applied the mandatory retirement policy, noting Carwein is older than 65.

Separately, Purdue last week again asked a federal court judge to keep all or part of the report secret. District Judge Robert L. Miller Jr. of the U.S. Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne, has yet to rule on the motion.

But on Aug. 28, Miller wrote that he was the sixth federal or state judge to order Purdue to produce the documents. The federal case is Michael A. Wartell v. Purdue University, et al., 1:13-CV-99.

Justices did not grant transfer to any petitions for the week ending Sept. 5, denying 26 cases. Supreme Court transfer dispositions may be viewed here.

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