KSU agrees to release yearbooks confiscated by school officials in 1994 in settlement with students

KENTUCKY — Two students who sued Kentucky State Universityin 1994 over the confiscation of 2,000 student yearbooks agreedto a settle their case against the university Wednesday inexchange for $5,000 each and $60,000 in attorney’s fees and costs,as well as the release of the captive yearbooks.

The settlement comes almost two months after the full U.S.Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the studentplaintiffs, Charles Kincaid and Capri Coffer in Kincaid v.Gibson, 236 F3d 342 (6th Cir. Jan. 5, 2001). The appeals court’sdecision followed two earlier rulings in favor of the universityby a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit and a federal districtcourt.

In addition to the monetary awards and attorney’s fees, theuniversity agreed to distribute the 717 remaining copies of the1994 Thorobred yearbook — which had been locked in a universitystorage room since they were confiscated by university officials– to the students who were supposed to receive them in 1994.Kentucky State officials said they will try to send the booksto 90 percent of the students eligible to receive them. Any booksnot distributed will be turned over to Bruce Orwin and WinterHuff, the attorneys who represented the students.

Orwin said he and Huff agreed to discount their fees by 10percent to reach a settlement with Kentucy State. If the two sideshad not agreed to a settlement, the case would have been sentto a district court judge to determine damages and attorney’sfees or Kentucky State could have appealed the Sixth Circuit’sruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Prior to the January ruling, Kentucky State had spent $43,353.86in attorney’s fees and costs to defend itself against the students’charge that university officials illegally confiscated the yearbooks.With the addition of the damages and attorney’s fees agreed toin the settlement, Kentucky State University will have spent morethan $100,000 in its attempt to prevent the release of the yearbooks.

Detailed background information and SPLC articles and pressreleases about Kincaid v. Gibson are available at: http://www.splc.org/newsflashes/kincaidinfo.html