Houston Cougars Employ The Defense of Kings
Is it game, set, and match for Michael Young? Is the University of Houston out of the woods? Does anybody but the parties involved (and the NCAA) really give a damn?
Yeah, about that resurrection attempt
Young sued the university in early July, seeking to rescind an employment contract he had signed but then wanted out of. UH claimed that Young was still under contract, that they were still paying him, and that they were expecting him to perform his duties. But then in mid-June, just several weeks later, UH terminated Young's contract. And last week, the Attorney General's office filed a legal response on behalf of the university.
And shocking no one, but perhaps Young's attorney, the state's basic response was simple: nice try, but no luck. The state generally denied all of Young's accusations, and then pled the affirmative defense of sovereign immunity.
Sovereign immunity is an ancient legal doctrine going back to before the United States existed. In short, the king could not be sued for any actions, and that's morphed into current actions where the state, or an entity or person acting on behalf of the state, cannot be sued. The University of Houston is a state school, making it a state entry, and it cannot be sued. It's unfair, but as former Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach found out, tough luck suing a state university.
There are differences of course. Leach sued for wrongful termination, claiming that Texas Tech violated his contract when the school fired him. Young is not seeking any monetary damages, and he's not suing to keep a job. He wants the court to rule that he rescinded the contract. So it's possible a legal scholar greater than myself can make the case and win. But the question becomes one of why?
The state's general denial failed to note an important element. Young is seeking to have the court rule there is no contract. But that point's now mute. There is no contract. The university terminated it. It wasn't terminated on the timeline requested by Young, but it was terminated.
Back in the day, right after I finished law school, I worked as the briefing attorney for a state district court judge. And I learned one thing: judges hate these type of law suits. They're petty. No real harm has been suffered by any party. There's no real money or physical damages involved. It's generally just a pissing contest that ends up taking way too much of the court's time over petty matters.