Delmarva Daily Times

A springtime settlement conference is a next major step toward settling a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by a former white university cabinet member suing historically black UMES.

Both sides agreed to produce discovery evidence before starting settlement talks, although either a summary judgment or a jury trial remain options pending the outcome of the conference, said Salisbury lawyer Robin Cockey, who represents plaintiff Ronald Nykiel.

“We agreed to a timetable for exchanging discovery, and we agreed to a settlement conference in the spring,” Cockey said. Both sides “wanted to do the discovery before the settlement conference,” he said.

Federal Judge J. Frederick Motz held a telephone conference a week ago with Cockey and attorneys representing UMES in the office of Brian Frosh, attorney general of Maryland, the Salisbury lawyer said.

The agreement to hold a settlement conference comes after Motz earlier this month denied a motion by UMES attorneys to dismiss the lawsuit. The motion also had asked the U.S. District Court for Maryland to render a summary judgment in the university’s favor. read more