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A federal jury Monday awarded more than $115,000 in a sexual discrimination suit brought by a man who was denied a job as head coach for the women’s rowing team at the University of Pennsylvania. The jury of seven women and one man awarded Andrew Medcalf $71,996 in lost wages, $18,130 in compensatory damages and $25,120 in punitive damages. Medcalf’s lawyer, Lawrence Woehrle, said his client “was plainly the most qualified candidate for the position and the jury recognized that.” By awarding punitive damages, Woehrle said, the jury “also recognized that it was outrageous for Penn to engineer the hiring process so that only women were interviewed.” The university’s lawyer, Neil Hamburg of Hamburg & Golden in Philadelphia, said he was “extremely distressed” by the verdict because he believed the evidence showed that Penn had “clearly hired the most qualified candidate for the position.” In his closing argument, Hamburg told the jury that Medcalf’s case turns civil rights laws on their head because Medcalf was insisting that a less qualified white male candidate be chosen over a woman. But Woehrle told the jury that there was strong evidence that Penn had illegally considered sex when it set out to fill the position. Medcalf testified that he was told Penn wanted a woman for the post because it believed the women’s rowing team needed a “strong female role model.” At first, said Medcalf, a rowing coach at the university at the time, Penn had asked Stanley Bergman, the director of rowing, to recommend a candidate. But when Bergman submitted Medcalf’s name, the university decided not to give him an interview. Medcalf said Bergman told him at the time that he should get a lawyer because the decision to reject him was based on the fact that he is male. Hamburg told the jury that Penn chose Barbara Kirch for the post because she had worked for nine years as head rowing coach at Dartmouth University and because she was an Olympian who had experience coaching the junior women’s national crew team, a position that gave her access to possible recruits for Penn’s team. The verdict came after a six-day trial before U.S. District Judge Herbert J. Hutton. The jury deliberated for four hours before returning the verdict, which said sex was “a determinative factor” in Penn’s decision not to hire Medcalf for the job. Medcalf, 50, is a stockbroker with the Philadelphia office of Legg Mason. Woehrle said Medcalf continued working as a coach at Penn for several years after he was rejected for the women’s head coach position. Even after he landed the job at Legg Mason, he continued to volunteer as a part-time coach at Penn, he said, but was told last year that he should stop volunteering because of the controversy surrounding his lawsuit. Having prevailed in an employment discrimination suit, Medcalf is also entitled to petition the court for an award of attorneys’ fees. Woehrle said that he couldn’t estimate the size of his bill but that the case was heavily litigated and that he bills at a rate of $200 per hour. Hamburg said the university intends to file post-trial motions before Hutton, asking that the verdict be set aside and, if necessary, to file an appeal.

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