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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Appellate court overturns Clay Co. jury decision

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Janis K. Price is keeping the faith and keeping her faith.

Whether or not she keeps her job of more than 16 years remains to be seen following the latest chapter in her lawsuit against DePauw University.

The Indiana Court of Appeals earlier this week ruled in favor of DePauw and overturned a jury's verdict for Price, the DPU employee who had claimed the university unjustly removed her from her part-time teaching position.

John T. Neighbours, the attorney who defended the university, said Wednesday that the decision "represents total vindication of DePauw."

Greencastle resident Price said she and her legal counsel, John Price (no relation) of Indianapolis, have 30 days to decide whether to appeal the case to the Indiana Supreme Court or "just drop it."

"Those are the only two options," Price told the Banner-Graphic Thursday.

"I'm certainly going to be thinking and praying about what to do."

In November 2003, a Clay County jury determined DePauw did not follow proper procedure in the handling of Price's job change and awarded her a little more than $10,000.

However, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruling, issued Tuesday determined the trial judge should have awarded summary judgment for DePauw and that there should not even have been a trial. As a result, the trial judge's denial of summary judgment is reversed and damages and costs awarded to Price also reversed.

Price was a part-time instructor at DPU until July 2001, when her responsibility for teaching was not extended by the university. She remains an administrator in DPU's education department.

Price originally sued the university claiming DePauw had cut her teaching duties because of her religious views. She maintains she was reassigned and incurred a $10,000 pay cut because she made available to students in her classroom Teachers in Focus magazine, which contained anti-homosexual material.

Price said she initiated "11 different meetings with three different administrators over a span of nine months" in trying to resolve the matter before it went to court.

DePauw argued that its decision to change Price's duties was the result of both declining enrollments in its teacher education program and reviews of her performance.

Price vehemently disagrees.

"I am continually am-azed," she said, "that I have been treated so poorly just because of my faith in Christ." In March 2003, Putnam Circuit Court Judge Diana LaViolette dismissed Price's claims DePauw violated her freedom of speech, freedom of religion and academic freedom.

The Clay County jury was asked only to decide whether DePauw violated its faculty handbook in the way it handled Price's reappointment, and ruled in her favor.

"I'm repeatedly baffled at what's happened and how I have been treated by DePauw University after 16 and a half years of exceptional work," Price added.

"I am going to continue to do good (work)," she said. "I don't want that to ever be an issue. I will continue to stay positive through this ordeal.

"But at this point, I don't know about next semester, next year or in the future.

"God has a plan and it is good and it is eternal," she concluded.

Attorney Price, who is on vacation, was unavailable for comment.

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