Judge throws out 2 plaintiffs in UM Title IX case on procedural grounds

A federal judge dismissed two plaintiffs from a sex-based discrimination lawsuit brought by former University of Montana employees, moving along a case that’s been pending trial in federal court for over two years.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris found claims from Laura Berkhouse and Courtney Babcock, two of the suit’s 16 plaintiffs, were made outside of Montana’s three-year statute of limitations, and therefore can’t be considered in the case based on procedural issues, according to an order filed last week. The plaintiffs’ lead attorney is Hillary Carls of Carls Law P.L.L.C., a Bozeman-based law firm.

“The Court did not rule on the merit of their claims,” a statement from the firm said. “The remaining 14 plaintiffs continue in this lawsuit so that women may experience equal rights and equal employment opportunities at the University of Montana and the Montana University System, which plaintiffs believe have for too long been denied.”

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The lawsuit, filed in August 2021, initially included claims from four women employed at UM: Catherine Cole, Barbara Koostra, Mary-Ann Sontag Bowman and Rhondie Voorhees. It accused UM of having a long-fostered culture that resulted in the unequal

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