Recruiting analyst Tom Culpepper, who was saddled with a $30 million judgment after a jury ruled that he defamed a former University of Alabama assistant football coach, has moved to overturn that verdict, or at least get a new trial.
Culpepper’s attorney, John Scott, argued in the motion that Culpepper would be prejudiced if the judgment were enforced while post-trial motions are pending “because execution or enforcement would financially cripple him.”
Scott pointed out in the motion that Culpepper cannot afford to post any security or a bond as security in the amount required by law for a stay pending his appeal. State law requires a bond of 125 percent of the judgment to appeal.
Among the other arguments made in his motion are that the assistant coach, Ronnie Cottrell, failed to provide sufficient evidence to support all of his claims against Culpepper.
He also claimed that Tuscaloosa Circuit Court Judge Steve Wilson erred when he determined that Cottrell was only a “limited-purpose public figure.” Further, Culpepper argued that the verdict was excessive and “the result of passion, prejudice, corruption and/or improper motive.”
In addition, he argued that Wilson “changed the burden of proof … after Culpepper had presented all of his evidence and (the) defense had rested his case.”
Finally, Culpepper argued in his motion that the damage award was excessive because the compensatory damage “is far in excess of any amount reasonably calculated to compensate Cottrell for any alleged injury to his reputation and/or mental anguish.”
Cottrell sued the NCAA, Culpepper and other defendants after the NCAA infractions committee sanctioned the university and the coaches in February of 2002 for recruiting violations. Culpepper allegedly implicated Cottrell. Among Cottrell’s claims were: libel and slander, invasion of privacy, negligence, wantonness and civil conspiracy.