Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP — and its two attorneys who investigated how sexual assault claims were handled at Baylor University — denied allegations of negligence, defamation and conspiracy made by Tom Hill, a former Baylor athletics administrator.

Hill was fired in May amid a sexual assault scandal and major personnel shake-up at the university. He was hired last week as president of the Waco BlueCats, the fledgling minor-league baseball team expected to play its first game in 2018.

Because Pepper Hamilton attorneys never represented Hill, he cannot assert such a negligence claim, Dallas lawyer William Cobb Jr. said in the answer to the lawsuit filed in 74th State District Court.

The answer said Pepper Hamilton was retained to do legal work for Baylor, not Hill, and the firm cannot be held liable for damages to a nonclient.

Hill’s suit did not identify defamatory statements allegedly made by Pepper Hamilton, according to the answer, and his claim of conspiracy also fails as a matter of law.

Cobb did not return a phone message Monday.

Houston lawyer Don Riddle, who is representing Hill, filed a notice of intention to depose Jim Barnes, the Baylor volleyball coach from 2004 to 2014, on Feb. 2.

Cobb, on Friday afternoon, objected to the notice and requested the deposition be postponed to May. He said the defense cannot conduct a deposition that day, nor is it a reasonable time for all defendants.

Riddle called the objection part of a “continued pattern of obstructionism” to block facts about the scandal.

“To me, (the objection) is so absurd that it will shock the judge when he sees it,” Riddle said. “I just believe that the judge will overrule (Cobb’s) motion. I’m hoping he will and let us take this deposition on Feb. 2.”

Earlier this month, Hill added former Baylor board Chairman Neal T. “Buddy” Jones to the lawsuit, accusing him of wrongful and intentional conduct by influencing current regents’ personnel decisions amid the scandal.

Jones has until Feb. 6 to respond to Hill’s suit.

Art Briles, who was fired as head football coach, has sued three regents and Baylor chief operating officer Reagan Ramsower, accusing them of libel, slander and conspiracy.

The university also currently faces four Title IX lawsuits.

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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