A breach of contract suit filed against Georgetown University by a multimillion-dollar donor to the law school was transferred this week from Texas federal district court to Washington, where it'll play out just several blocks from the law school campus.
Scott Ginsburg, who graduated from the law school in 1978, accused the school of violating a contract to name a new recreational facility after him, in recognition of a $5 million donation. He sued to recover $7.5 million in donations he made over the years. The school said Ginsburg agreed to give up his naming rights after he was found civilly liable for insider trading, and filed a counterclaim for $9 million it said he still owed.
On August 26, Judge Sam Lindsay of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted Georgetown's motion to move the case to Washington. The judge agreed with the law school that Washington was a more appropriate forum, given the proximity to key witnesses and strong public interest in litigating the case where Georgetown and the facility at issue were located.
Ginsburg's attorney, John Cox III of Lynn Tillotson Pinker & Cox in Dallas, Texas, could not immediately be reached for comment. A spokeswoman for the law school declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. The school is being represented by Bruce Oakley, a Houston, Texas-based litigation partner at Hogan Lovells.
In the original complaint Ginsburg filed in March, he said he pledged $5 million in 2000 for the construction of a recreational facility that would bear his name. The school tried to amend the agreement in light of the insider-trading investigation, he said, but he refused the offer. He said school officials repeatedly assured him the building would be named after him and continued to ask for money. Ginsburg agreed to donate an additional $11 million; according to his complaint, he paid approximately $2.5 million of that pledge to date.
Claiming the law school violated its contract by not naming the facility after him, Ginsburg sued for the $7.5 million in donations he had already made.
In counterclaims filed in April, the law school said Ginsburg did agree to give up the naming rights, with the understanding that the school would reconsider its decision once the insider-trading case resolved. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ultimately ruled against Ginsburg, and the law school dedicated the recreational facility several months later-absent his name on the building (his portrait and a plaque honoring his donation are in the building’s lobby, according to Georgetown’s filing.) Ginsburg attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and did not complain, the law school said.
Georgetown simultaneously filed its motion to transfer the case. The Texas court acted on the motion without addressing the underlying claims. The case was formally transferred to D.C. federal district court yesterday.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton is assigned to the case. There are no hearings scheduled.