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Fired teacher asks federal judge to reject request by Indiana diocese to toss jury's verdict

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FORT WAYNE, Indiana — A Roman Catholic diocese's request that a federal judge throw out a jury's verdict that it discriminated against a former teacher fired for trying to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization raises arguments already decided, the woman's lawyer said in a document filed Wednesday.

The filing by attorney Kathleen Delaney on behalf of Emily Herx contends a motion filed last week by the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese erroneously claims that no evidence supports the jury's verdict.

"After raising these arguments unsuccessfully with this court before and during trial, the diocese once again claims that it did not discriminate against Herx, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary," DeLaney wrote.

In a Jan. 16 motion, the diocese argued that there was "no legally sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable jury" could find for Herx, who is from Hoagland, about 15 miles northeast of Fort Wayne.

A federal jury ruled last month in Herx's favor and awarded her $1.9 million in damages. U.S. District Judge Robert L. Miller Jr. later reduced that to about $544,000.

Diocese officials declined to renew Herx's contract at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Fort Wayne in 2011 because she had undergone the medical procedure that involves mixing eggs and sperm in a laboratory dish and transferring the resulting embryo into the womb.

The motion by the diocese says Herx "admitted to engaging in in vitro fertilization, a procedure the Catholic Church considers to be gravely immoral, expressed no remorse for doing so, did not agree to stop violating the Church's teaching and, in fact, continued to violate it." It says that Herx didn't show present sufficient evidence that she was discriminated against because she was a woman, saying the decision not to renew her contract was religiously based.

The filing by Herx argues the jury correctly found that the diocese violated federal law.

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