After listening to eight days of testimony, and deliberating for more than four hours, a nine-member jury found that former University of the Cumberlands President Dr. Jim Taylor and his wife, Dinah, did not have a valid, enforceable contract with the university that would have paid the Taylors his salary for the remainder of their lives.
“I am very pleased the jury agreed with the position the university has taken for more than three years,” said UC President Dr. Larry Cockrum in a statement released following the verdict Friday in U.S. District Court in London.
During the eight days of testimony, the jurors heard from Dr. and Mrs. Taylor concerning the contract they claimed had been approved by the 27-member University Board of Trustees during an executive session following the board’s regular meeting in April 2012.
According to testimony from several of the plaintiff’s witnesses, and the minutes of the meeting, the contract had been read during the executive session and unanimously approved.
However, the defense called several trustees as witnesses of their own, who stated that no contract was ever approved.
According to the “disputed agreement” as it was referred to during testimony, the Taylors would receive the salary whether or not they performed any work for the university.
If Dr. Taylor preceded Dinah Taylor in death, she was to continue to receive his salary until her death.
In addition to the salary, the contract provided that the Taylors receive health benefits, a car, cell phones, and an apartment on campus for them to use when they were in Williamsburg.
The Taylors filed the lawsuit in June 2016, seeking more than $4 million in damages from the university, which they claimed was the amount they would have received if the contract had been honored for the expected remainder of their lives.
“This verdict allows the university to direct all of its resources toward its mission of providing a quality, affordable education to students from all backgrounds,” Cockrum stated. “While this lawsuit should never have been brought, our Board of Trustees will continue to appreciate the contributions Dr. and Mrs. Taylor made to University of the Cumberlands, and to wish them well.”