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Pitt: Ethics violation in case vs. ex-coach

| Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, 7:10 p.m.

A U.S. district judge should bar lawyers for former Pitt football coach Michael Haywood from his federal wrongful firing lawsuit because they've committed an ethical violation, lawyers for the university say in a motion filed Thursday.

One of Haywood's lawyers, Christopher Johns, said the motion is an attempt to sidetrack the case.

Pitt fired Haywood in January 2011, two weeks after it hired him, because he was arrested for domestic abuse. The charges were later dropped.

The university claims Anthony Buzbee, Johns and their Houston law firm violated state ethical guidelines by entering into a contract with Albert Elias, Haywood's agent and a witness in the case, in which Elias will get part of any damage award.

Johns said Elias referred the case and it's common for referring attorneys to get a referral fee if the plaintiff wins.

There's nothing unethical in the firm's agreement with him, Johns said. Pitt officials declined comment.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bbowling@tribweb.com.

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