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January 14, 2009

Billionaire magnate Monaghan
fights notes' release in case


BY LORI BRASIER
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Former pizza magnate and billionaire Tom Monaghan is fighting to keep hundreds of documents -- including daily personal notes he kept for several years -- out of a whistle-blower lawsuit filed in Washtenaw County Circuit Court by three former professors of his Ave Maria School of Law.

The former professors, Stephen Safranek, Edward Lyons and Philip Pucillo, in their 2007 suit, claim Monaghan, the former owner of the Domino’s Pizza empire, fired them when they challenged his management of the law school. In filings with the court, their Bloomfield Hills attorney, Deborah Gordon, says Monaghan kept daily notes that included strategies on how to fire the three, plus other faculty members he disagreed with.

Among the complaints, the faculty members were questioning Monaghan’s decision to move the law school from Michigan to land he owns in Florida. That move is expected to happen this summer.

Monaghan’s attorneys argue that some of the notes should not be released because they would violate his privacy. Washtenaw Circuit Court Judge Melinda Morris, in a ruling last year, ordered the notes turned over to the fired professors. But that ruling has been appealed to higher courts.

Wednesday, the judge heard arguments, but did not rule, pending the higher court’s decisions.