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Court upholds dismissal of former UMD coaches' state suit

Shannon Miller
Former UMD women’s hockey head coach Shannon Miller (from left), attorney Anne Weills and Jen Banford, former UMD softball coach and women's hockey director of operations, leave the federal courthouse Monday, March 12, 2018. Steve Kuchera / Forum News Service

HENNEPIN COUNTY, Minn. ⁠— The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the dismissal of a state lawsuit filed by three former women's sports coaches at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

A district judge last October threw out the case brought by former women's hockey coach Shannon Miller, former women's basketball coach Annette Wiles and former softball coach and women's hockey operations director Jen Banford.

Their complaint alleged discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, creation of a hostile work environment and reprisal under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, as well as violations of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Law and the Minnesota Whistleblower Act.

Judge Daniel Moreno, of Hennepin County, determined that the lawsuit — filed in March 2018, the same day Miller prevailed in federal court — was brought after the statute of limitations expired. The judge also said Miller could not seek additional damages based largely on the same facts that were presented to the federal jury.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in July. A 12-page opinion issued Tuesday affirmed Moreno's findings.

The state court dismissal has no bearing on the $4.21 million award Miller received in federal court after a jury found UMD liable for sex discrimination and Title IX retaliation in the December 2014 decision not to offer her a new contract after 16 seasons.


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