By Nathan Hale, Law360 | March 26th, 2020
Law360 (March 26, 2020, 9:19 PM EDT) — The University of Miami asked a federal judge Thursday to sanction a former marketing graduate student and her counsel for filing and maintaining “frivolous” claims that the institution failed to address a former professor’s alleged sexual harassment.
The sanctions motion contends that when Ana Kono voluntarily dismissed Juliano Laran as a defendant in September, that wiped out the only argument she had to maintain her negligence claims against the university, yet she has maintained her suit nonetheless.
But Kono’s counsel, Donald J. Hayden of Mark Migdal & Hayden LLC, told Law360 on Thursday that they reviewed the motion when the university gave notice before it was filed, and they concluded it is a tactical move that they intend to contest.
“We looked at it and believe it is only intended to narrow discovery and intimidate the plaintiff,” Hayden said.
In her 2019 suit, Kono brought claims of negligent retention and negligent training and supervision against the university, based on the school’s alleged failure to protect her from sexual harassment by Laran, whom she accused of intentional infliction of emotional distress while she was a doctoral candidate and research assistant working under his supervision from 2014 to 2017.
The university’s motion to dismiss is pending before U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams in Miami.
Counsel for the university declined to comment further on the matter Thursday.
Kono is represented by Donald J. Hayden and Darci Cohen of Mark Migdal & Hayden LLC.
The university and its trustees are represented by Eric D. Isicoff and Teresa Ragatz of Isicoff Ragatz.
The case is Kono v. University of Miami et al., case number 1:19-cv-22076, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
–Editing by Haylee Pearl