April 14, 2017 by Alexandra Jones
Drexel University President John A. Fry may be compelled to submit to a deposition in the legal case between the university and its former food service provider, SodexoMagic.
The vendor has accused Fry of purposely misrepresenting Drexel’s plans for student body growth and fraudulently inducing the food service company to sign a 10-year vendor commitment. On March 31 it requested the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to compel Fry to testify.
“President Fry was personally involved in the decision-making portion of the [request for proposal] process,” SodexoMagic argued. “SodexoMagic is entitled to take President Fry’s deposition because he clearly possesses information and knowledge unique to him. President Fry has personal and superior knowledge of this issue, and that knowledge cannot be obtained through alternative means.”
Drexel University terminated its contract with SodexoMagic in September 2016 and SodexoMagic filed suit days later. The vendor claimed that the contract, which had been signed a year prior, had encouraged it to invest $24 million into the university campus and provide $35 million over 10 years under false assurances about increasing student enrollment.
SodexoMagic’s complaint claims that the University disclosed a decline in student enrollment for the 2015-16 school year after the contract had been signed and the vendor had already invested $9.3 million upfront to build Urban Eatery, a new dining hall, on campus.
Although SodexoMagic claims that the drop in enrollment was part of a detailed plan approved by Fry months before they signed the contract, Stephen Cozen, an attorney representing the university, said that Fry’s deposition would not offer any relevant information to the case.
“John Fry was not involved in the discussions leading up to the August 2014 decision to enter into the food service contract with Sodexo,” Cozen wrote in an email to Law360, a legal news outlet. “We will leave it for [the judge] to decide.”
The parties agreed to extend the deadline for Drexel’s formal response to April 19.