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The Journal Gazette

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016 3:53 pm

Settlement reached in Wartell suit

Rebecca S. Green The Journal Gazette

Somebody has cried "uncle" in the federal lawsuit stemming from the forced retirement of former IPFW Chancellor Michael Wartell.

On Monday, attorneys for Purdue University, the defendant in the lawsuit, filed paperwork announcing a settlement has been reached and that they had the permission of Wartell’s attorneys to file the notice.

The filing promised the ultimate dismissal of the suit, per whatever agreement Purdue reached with Wartell, who sued the school in both federal and Tippecanoe County court in 2013.

No details of the settlement were released, and Wartell’s attorneys declined to comment further on the matter.

The settlement comes after years of wrangling over a report compiled in the wake of Wartell’s forced retirement.

In 2011, Wartell was forced to retire at 65 under a mandatory retirement age policy that he alleges was not enforced against any other senior administrator. 

According to the federal lawsuit, in late 2010 or early 2011, then-Purdue President France Córdova announced in a meeting that, before her term as president was over, she wanted to increase the number of women in the administration. 

Requests from IPFW that Wartell be allowed to stay were denied. Purdue replaced him with a 64-year-old woman, Vicky Carwein, and she assumed his duties in September 2012. 

In both the state and federal cases, Purdue officials have fought to keep secret the report compiled by attorney John Trimble, who was hired to investigate Wartell’s removal.

Trimble completed his investigation in February 2013 and turned his report over to a group of Purdue board members, who found that no discrimination had taken place.

The university refused to make the document available to Wartell’s attorneys, however, citing attorney-client privilege and claiming that the document was not a public record.

That report, identified in multiple court documents as the Trimble Report, has been the subject of multiple motions, hearings and arguments within the past year. And in all of them, the courts have held that the document is not subject to attorney-client privilege and is a public record. 

In September, Purdue’s attorneys asked for a protective order to keep the document a secret. No ruling on their request was made. Status conferences in the case were delayed over the past few months, most recently in January.

The Trimble Report has not been released, nor has documentation about how much money Purdue spent to keep the document out of the public eye.