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Johnson-Klein wins big

By | December 07, 2007 | News
Stacy Johnson-Klein smiles shortly after being fired as the Fresno State women’s basketball coach in March 2005. She is flanked by her husband, Chuck Klein (left) and her attorney, Warren Paboojian.
Joseph Hollak / The Collegian

Former women’s basketball coach Stacy Johnson-Klein was awarded $19.1 million in damages Thursday in the sexual discrimination case she brought against Fresno State.

After four hours of deliberation, the jury of 11 women and one man announced the decision with a verdict of 12-0 on 13 counts.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Johnson-Klein said outside the courtroom after the verdict. “We’ve been dragged through the mud, we’ve been lied about, we’ve been misrepresented.

“And for women in general, I think it’s a victory to see there is a system, there is justice in America.”

Johnson-Klein was Fresno State’s women’s head basketball coach from 2002 until she was fired in March 2005. She filed her sexual discrimination lawsuit against the university in August 2005.

The heated eight-week trial brought several university employees and athletes to the witness stand, including University President John D. Welty, former basketball player Chantella Perera and Johnson-Klein herself.

Closing arguments were held in Fresno County Superior Court Wednesday, where Johnson-Klein’s lawyers said the ex-coach was fired because she fought for women’s rights. A Fresno State lawyer countered that claim by saying she was let go because she was a dishonest and abusive employee.

Welty issued a statement after the verdict was announced:

“This fundamentally has always been an employment case. The university will always act when the health and welfare of its students is endangered.

“I disagree with the decision. We will appeal. But we are determined not to be distracted by it, and will continue with the essential work of the university. I am personally committed, and this university is committed, to the well-being of all of our students.”

Johnson-Klein’s lawsuit marks the third sexual discrimination lawsuit against Fresno State in just five months.
Former volleyball coach Lindy Vivas was awarded $5.85 million in July, although a judge recommended the amount be reduced to $4.52 million. Two months ago, former associate athletic director Diane Milutinovich settled her case for $3.5 million.

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25 Responses to Johnson-Klein wins big

  1. Whatever says:

    A truly mind-boggling amount.

    Pretty embarrassing for the university. And for us students.

    I like how the Fresno Bee quoted the attorney representing Fresno State saying he’s embarrassed for the community and his hometown. Gotta feel for that guy.

  2. Whatever says:

    A truly mind-boggling amount.

    Pretty embarrassing for the university. And for us students.

    I like how the Fresno Bee quoted the attorney representing Fresno State saying he’s embarrassed for the community and his hometown. Gotta feel for that guy.

  3. Whatever says:

    Also I read that SJK wanted to settle with the university for about $900,000 but it would not agree to more than 550,000.

    You’d think they would have learned by now.

  4. Whatever says:

    Also I read that SJK wanted to settle with the university for about $900,000 but it would not agree to more than 550,000.

    You’d think they would have learned by now.

  5. Mike Foster says:

    The Collegian Staff Comment

    This verdict is ridiculous. All the evidence was against her, and all the testimony.

    The rebuttal phase was only 34 minutes long, and consisted of her going on the stand and calling all the other witnesses liars.

    Then she proceeded to say she had over 400 text messages that proved sexual harassment, but never had to produce them in court.

    This had better be overturned in the appeals because if not it will show more holes in our legal system when it comes to frivolous law suits.

    Plus the amount was just absurd. It makes me want to stub my toe on the way out of school then sue them. Apparently its worth a guaranteed $3 million.

  6. Mike Foster says:

    The Collegian Staff Comment

    This verdict is ridiculous. All the evidence was against her, and all the testimony.

    The rebuttal phase was only 34 minutes long, and consisted of her going on the stand and calling all the other witnesses liars.

    Then she proceeded to say she had over 400 text messages that proved sexual harassment, but never had to produce them in court.

    This had better be overturned in the appeals because if not it will show more holes in our legal system when it comes to frivolous law suits.

    Plus the amount was just absurd. It makes me want to stub my toe on the way out of school then sue them. Apparently its worth a guaranteed $3 million.

  7. Whatever says:

    I’m working on getting fired. Better than winning the lottery if the trial is absurd enough, apparently.

    SJK’s people made a pretty good case, and I’m sure the athletics dept is full of other maniacs just like her, but two wrongs don’t make a right!

    I wonder if things would have been different if they could have just fired her on the spot at will. Was she on some sort of contract or what? I never find these kinds of details. I bet she could have still sued but her case would have been harder to prove, I think.

  8. Whatever says:

    I’m working on getting fired. Better than winning the lottery if the trial is absurd enough, apparently.

    SJK’s people made a pretty good case, and I’m sure the athletics dept is full of other maniacs just like her, but two wrongs don’t make a right!

    I wonder if things would have been different if they could have just fired her on the spot at will. Was she on some sort of contract or what? I never find these kinds of details. I bet she could have still sued but her case would have been harder to prove, I think.

  9. Eddie Winslow says:

    How can the damages be $19 million? This is really over the top by any measurement.

  10. Eddie Winslow says:

    How can the damages be $19 million? This is really over the top by any measurement.

  11. Anon says:

    I find that the SJK trial was completely wrong from the beginning. There were 11 women and 1 guy! No offense to women out there, but what if there was a flip side to this, and the trial was about a man suing for sexual harassment? If there were 11 men and 1 woman on the jury, dont you think that this guy would pretty much have a guaranteed win? Would you consider that fair?

    This trial was nothing more than an activist group that wanted to bring out all the dirty laundry the university has! Unfortunately, that activist group was called “the jury”.

    As for calling for President Welty’s resignation, thats absurd! She called him a criminal and a man who didn’t care about the people that worked for him. Funny, I don’t hear ANY other teachers making the same remarks! SJK needs to just take her money, and never show her face on the Fresno State’s campus ever again.

    I wish media outlets, like the Ray Appleton Show, would have at least questioned her, rather than try to justify her win by creating more controversy for its ratings. They just opened their arms to her for the 1st interview, rather than open the show to some of the players that (allegedly) were “manipulated and used by the University” to paint a negative image of her. I hope Mr. Appleton extends an invite to the players so that they can respond to the negative comments SJK made about their testimony. That show should be ashamed of itself for not doing so.

    As for the conduct of the officials in the Athletic Dept., I think those officials need to pay better attention to what they decide to do. They need to realize that the University is represented through their actions. Have some etiquette, and realize that this is not proper conduct!

    Thankfully, any appellate court will see this, and reduce the amount. But as for overturning the ruling, Fresno State better hope that gender plays a large role in sexual discrimination cases, and their jury.

  12. Anon says:

    I find that the SJK trial was completely wrong from the beginning. There were 11 women and 1 guy! No offense to women out there, but what if there was a flip side to this, and the trial was about a man suing for sexual harassment? If there were 11 men and 1 woman on the jury, dont you think that this guy would pretty much have a guaranteed win? Would you consider that fair?

    This trial was nothing more than an activist group that wanted to bring out all the dirty laundry the university has! Unfortunately, that activist group was called “the jury”.

    As for calling for President Welty’s resignation, thats absurd! She called him a criminal and a man who didn’t care about the people that worked for him. Funny, I don’t hear ANY other teachers making the same remarks! SJK needs to just take her money, and never show her face on the Fresno State’s campus ever again.

    I wish media outlets, like the Ray Appleton Show, would have at least questioned her, rather than try to justify her win by creating more controversy for its ratings. They just opened their arms to her for the 1st interview, rather than open the show to some of the players that (allegedly) were “manipulated and used by the University” to paint a negative image of her. I hope Mr. Appleton extends an invite to the players so that they can respond to the negative comments SJK made about their testimony. That show should be ashamed of itself for not doing so.

    As for the conduct of the officials in the Athletic Dept., I think those officials need to pay better attention to what they decide to do. They need to realize that the University is represented through their actions. Have some etiquette, and realize that this is not proper conduct!

    Thankfully, any appellate court will see this, and reduce the amount. But as for overturning the ruling, Fresno State better hope that gender plays a large role in sexual discrimination cases, and their jury.

  13. 2 girls 1 cup says:

    SJK is not worth the 4+ million dollars she won on the grounds of future earnings. Pat Summit and other top-level women’s coaches don’t make those kind of earnings for the duration of their respective careers. No Fresno State coach in ANY sport (mens or womens) is worthy of that kind of cash money.

  14. 2 girls 1 cup says:

    SJK is not worth the 4+ million dollars she won on the grounds of future earnings. Pat Summit and other top-level women’s coaches don’t make those kind of earnings for the duration of their respective careers. No Fresno State coach in ANY sport (mens or womens) is worthy of that kind of cash money.

  15. Eddie Winslow says:

    I have two problems with this today’s developments—

    ASI student leaders don’t need to stand up and back Welty——give that noise a rest. JPM and Russ Statham need to stay within their job duties and take some real action to help average Fresno State student.

    Secondly, Dean Flores of Shafter is a media whore—probably a whore in general (time will tell). What is he trying to accomplish by his media sideshow today? That display he put on today with SJK in the background was an outrage. Flores is pulling out all the stops to save his political career—-what a tool!

  16. Eddie Winslow says:

    I have two problems with this today’s developments—

    ASI student leaders don’t need to stand up and back Welty——give that noise a rest. JPM and Russ Statham need to stay within their job duties and take some real action to help average Fresno State student.

    Secondly, Dean Flores of Shafter is a media whore—probably a whore in general (time will tell). What is he trying to accomplish by his media sideshow today? That display he put on today with SJK in the background was an outrage. Flores is pulling out all the stops to save his political career—-what a tool!

  17. The Knicks Got Nothing On Fresno State. « Signal to Noise says:

    [...] is the third such suit Fresno State has either been found liable for or settled over sexual harassment in the past five months: former volleyball coach Lindy Vivas won a seven-figure judgment and former [...]

  18. Sam says:

    Anyone in the courtroom saw the CSU attorney’s (One who is now 0-3 and has been hit for just over 28 million dollars Mrs. Dawn Theadore……) helped choose the jury of 11 women and 1 man. The jury is not just given to the plaintiff. The evidence was obviously very strong towards SJK and the University must become aware of what is going on at Fresno State, but what are they doing as a result of this verdict???? They are burying their heads in the sand and saying… Oh, we will appeal, now the Jury is wrong and probably the judge is even wrong, everybody is wrong but them. SJK was wrong along with all the other women, wrong, wrong, wrong. WHATEVER…. I can think of 156 reasons accept responsibility and make a change. That is how many times a juror said YES to the verdict form. YES, SJK was wronged.

    The media did not report this story as it was unfolding in the courtroom. This is the true reason for the shocking reaction in the community. SJK answered every hard question Fresno State could throw at her in the court room and she did it with class and character. People didn’t hear about that though, because her testimony showing her strength and character was not sexy.

    SHE WON>>>>>> SHE IS VINDICATED Good luck SJK you are a true warrior.

  19. Sam says:

    Anyone in the courtroom saw the CSU attorney’s (One who is now 0-3 and has been hit for just over 28 million dollars Mrs. Dawn Theadore……) helped choose the jury of 11 women and 1 man. The jury is not just given to the plaintiff. The evidence was obviously very strong towards SJK and the University must become aware of what is going on at Fresno State, but what are they doing as a result of this verdict???? They are burying their heads in the sand and saying… Oh, we will appeal, now the Jury is wrong and probably the judge is even wrong, everybody is wrong but them. SJK was wrong along with all the other women, wrong, wrong, wrong. WHATEVER…. I can think of 156 reasons accept responsibility and make a change. That is how many times a juror said YES to the verdict form. YES, SJK was wronged.

    The media did not report this story as it was unfolding in the courtroom. This is the true reason for the shocking reaction in the community. SJK answered every hard question Fresno State could throw at her in the court room and she did it with class and character. People didn’t hear about that though, because her testimony showing her strength and character was not sexy.

    SHE WON>>>>>> SHE IS VINDICATED Good luck SJK you are a true warrior.

  20. A.C. Slater says:

    SJK was hired to put butts in the seats—-increase male attendance at hoops games and keep the dedicated BDF and female fans satisfied—–This SJK character thrived as a coach and in her ‘courtroom career’ based on little more that her sex appeal and blonde hair. She is not a true warrior, but rather a vindictive, whorish little girl in a woman’s body.

  21. A.C. Slater says:

    SJK was hired to put butts in the seats—-increase male attendance at hoops games and keep the dedicated BDF and female fans satisfied—–This SJK character thrived as a coach and in her ‘courtroom career’ based on little more that her sex appeal and blonde hair. She is not a true warrior, but rather a vindictive, whorish little girl in a woman’s body.

  22. Whatever says:

    haha check this out to see her wedding at Welty’s HOUSE.

    http://gobulldogs.cstv.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/083002aaa.html

  23. Whatever says:

    haha check this out to see her wedding at Welty’s HOUSE.

    http://gobulldogs.cstv.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/083002aaa.html

  24. Where are our priorities? says:

    Assuming that she was in fact a complete victim of this discrimination, how much is discrimination worth (in pain and suffering and other expenses)?

    Research some wrongful death lawsuits (drunk driving or otherwise). You may find awards anywhere from a few million to 15 or even 20 million. For a police officers use of excessive force you may be awarded a few million to around ten million, depending on how brutal the beating was.

    Is there anyone out there who believes SJK endured pain and suffering and loses even remotely close to the same level of the complete loss of a loved one’s life or the intense physical pain of a brutal beating? If there is, I would love to see you tell the victums of those cases, face to face, that her loss was equally devistating.

    The bottom line is that the award is outrageous. There are many more important ways the money could be spent instead of being awarded to an already overpaid buffoon.

  25. Where are our priorities? says:

    Assuming that she was in fact a complete victim of this discrimination, how much is discrimination worth (in pain and suffering and other expenses)?

    Research some wrongful death lawsuits (drunk driving or otherwise). You may find awards anywhere from a few million to 15 or even 20 million. For a police officers use of excessive force you may be awarded a few million to around ten million, depending on how brutal the beating was.

    Is there anyone out there who believes SJK endured pain and suffering and loses even remotely close to the same level of the complete loss of a loved one’s life or the intense physical pain of a brutal beating? If there is, I would love to see you tell the victums of those cases, face to face, that her loss was equally devistating.

    The bottom line is that the award is outrageous. There are many more important ways the money could be spent instead of being awarded to an already overpaid buffoon.

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