Lawsuits are piling up in the assault case of University of Mississippi men's basketball coach Andy Kennedy. Even Kennedy's wife, Kimber, has joined the fray, making the couple's sex life--or lack thereof--an issue.
Andy Kennedy took the case into the civil realm by filing a defamation lawsuit against Mohamed Jiddou, the cab driver who claimed Kennedy assaulted him around 1 a.m. in mid December on a downtown Cincinnati street. For good measure, Kennedy also sued Michael Strother, a valet who backed up Jiddou's version of events.
Jiddou returned fire late last week by asking that Kennedy's lawsuit be dismissed and countersuing Kennedy for assault, ethnic intimidation, and filing of a frivolous lawsuit. My guess is that Strother also will file a countersuit any day.
The most intriguing entrant in the lawsuit fray is Kimber Kennedy, the coach's wife. She filed a loss-of-consortium lawsuit against Jiddou and Strother, claiming their statements regarding the criminal case have so distracted the coach that his "performance" at home has, ahem, suffered.
Kimber Kennedy's lawsuit has been a gift from heaven for headline writers and Web-site commenters. "Coach's Wife Sues, Claiming Lack of Playing Time" trumpets one headline. "Andy Kennedy's Wife has Lost That Loving Feeling" blares another.
One or two sites have run photos of Kimber Kennedy and raised the question: How could things possibly be so bad that he could lose interest in her? Suffice to say that Mrs. Kennedy is easy on the eyes.
At this point, perhaps I should state that our interest in the Kennedy case arises partly from the fact that I know a number of the central characters, including the coach himself. Andy Kennedy and two members of his staff are alumni of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), my former employer.
Kimber Kennedy, I believe, also has a degree from UAB, and she was a regular at Blazer games during Andy's playing days and a stint as an assistant coach. As numerous Web commenters have noted, she is an attractive woman, to put it mildly.
Andy Kennedy has known a lot of success on the basketball court, but let's say he is a major overachiever in the wife department. As a red-blooded American guy, I can think of quite a few adjectives to describe Kimber Kennedy and "scorching" is one of them.
In fact, I was telling Mrs. Schnauzer the other day about the loss-of-consortium lawsuit, and she was less than enthralled. "Why don't you tell me again how hot Kimber is," she said. "I didn't the get the idea the first 47 times you mentioned it."
Mrs. Schnauzer has a good sense of humor, thank God. Without that, I would have had a skillet firmly implanted in my cranium a long time ago.
Aside from the fact that Mrs. Kennedy looks good--did I mention that she's hot?--this case raises a number of interesting issues for us here at Legal Schnauzer. I like Andy Kennedy and have pulled for him in his coaching career. I've interviewed him numerous times and always found him to be engaging and thoughtful. But from where I sit, it appears the coach has screwed up big time.
A source with strong connections in college athletics tells me that Ole Miss officials had warned Kennedy about his drinking. I don't think it's so much a matter of Kennedy being a drunk. But he apparently had developed a habit of meeting friends for drinks after home games, and the sessions would sometimes become quite loud and boisterous. Oxford, Mississippi, is a small college town, and word had gotten back to administrators that Kennedy's behavior didn't look good.
The Kennedy case hits close to home for me, on several levels. I was the victim of a crime and then faced a bogus lawsuit because I sought to have it prosecuted. I also was the victim of an assault, and I know that is not a pleasant experience.
From where I sit, it appears the cab driver simply was trying to do his job and wound up with major legal headaches because of it. Likewise, Mrs. Schnauzer and I were trying to protect our property rights and wound up with legal headaches that eventually led to me losing my job at UAB.
Perhaps you can understand why my sympathies lie with the cab driver here. Andy Kennedy has shown a lot of promise as a basketball coach, and it would be unfortunate to see his career derailed by this incident. But I suspect the coach knows he's got a serious problem on his hands.
My guess is that the Kimber Kennedy lawsuit is an attempt at damage control.
A Cincinnati judge last week set a trial date of April 20 in the criminal case. But I feel certain Kennedy wants to make sure there never is a criminal trial. That's probably why he filed the lawsuit against Jiddou and Strother. The goal, I suspect, is to get the case into the civil arena and try to pay Jiddou and Strother enough settlement money that they will ask for the criminal case to be dropped. If that happens, Cincinnati prosecutors probably will go along with it and drop criminal charges.
So why the Kimber Kennedy lawsuit? Well, I'm not a lawyer--and I welcome insight from anyone who is a lawyer--but here's what I think is happening: Andy Kennedy knows that if a civil case is settled in his name, that might hurt him with future employers. And if he did ignore warnings from superiors about drinking, he might know that his job is in grave danger at Ole Miss.
If Kennedy suspects that he will be looking for another job come spring 2009, his wife's lawsuit might be geared toward helping keep his record clean for potential employers. For example, I'm guessing that Jiddou and Strother now will be forced to countersue Kimber Kennedy. That means that any settlement could be made in her name, and the Kennedys lawyer might insist that both the criminal and civil cases against Andy be dropped.
The lawyer probably made sure that Kimber Kennedy had liability insurance that would cover a settlement in her name. Without such coverage, the Kennedys would have to pay out of pocket, which might be worth it to save his coaching career.
Experience has taught me that lawsuits rarely are about truth and justice. They might start out that way, but they usually evolve into struggles about money, power, public relations, and positioning.
That's what appears to be happening in the Kennedy case. I wouldn't be surprised if Ole Miss has a new basketball coach in 2009-10. But if Kimber Kennedy helps her husband clear his name criminally and civilly, he can reach a better settlement with the school and improve his chances at getting another coaching job.
Meanwhile, Jiddou and Strother should get a nice chunk of change for their troubles. From where I sit, they deserve it.