LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  Former University of Louisville President James Ramsey has asked a judge to force the U of L Foundation to pay his legal costs in defending a lawsuit the university and foundation filed against Ramsey and his former subordinates late last month.

In a letter to the foundation, Ramsey’s attorney, Steve Pence, warned those costs “may be substantial,” as Ramsey will likely have to hire an investigator and accountant in addition to lawyers, according to court records filed last week.

The dispute over whether the foundation is required to “indemnify” Ramsey and four other individuals it has sued is likely to be the opening salvo in a complex case involving money management and fiduciary duties.

U of L sued Ramsey, his former chief of staff Kathleen Smith and three others on April 25, alleging they plundered the school’s endowment with excessive spending and unreasonable compensation in the eight years preceding Ramsey’s resignation in 2016, while also overstating the value of the fund with deceptive accounting.

Smith and the others – former foundation chief financial officer Jason Tomlinson, former board member and paid consultant Burt Deutsch and former U of L chief financial officer Mike Curtin – are also likely to demand that the foundation pay their legal fees.

Nonprofits, including the foundation, typically offer their board members and top employees protection against having to risk their personal assets if they are sued in connection with their service to the organization.

The university’s lead lawyer in the case contends that the four aren’t entitled to have their fees paid because of the intentional misconduct alleged in the lawsuit.

In the letter the foundation, Pence said Ramsey's costs will be "not unlike" what the university paid to investigate the alleged misconduct at the foundation. U of L spent $2.2 million on a forensic examination completed in June 2017 and another $1.5 million on legal fees as it weighed the lawsuit, board of trustees chairman David Grissom said last month. 

The fees for Ramsey, Smith and the other defendants could come out of an insurance pool that the university’s lawyer, Andy Campbell, has estimated at $25 million.

But the university and foundation also want to tap that pool to cover the losses allegedly caused by the misconduct alleged in the lawsuit, Campbell said on April 25.

Pence asked Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Judith McDonald-Burkman to order the foundation to cover Ramsey’s costs in a filing on Wednesday. The university has not yet responded in court.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2018 WDRB News. All rights reserved.