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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Negotiation of an out-of-court settlement of lawsuits relating to the construction of the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena was authorized Monday by the UT board of trustees’ executive committee.

UT President Joe Johnson, requesting the authority, told the committee in a telephone conference call that intense discussions have been under way for about a week. UT sued the original contractor, B.B. Andersen Co., of Topeka, Kan., and the firm’s bonding company, USF&G, for about $7 million in compensatory damages. Andersen and USF&G sued UT for more than $6 million.

The two sides were scheduled to present pre-trial motions (at 9:30 a.m.) Tuesday morning. The trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Johnson expressed hope that a settlement could be reached prior to the trial.

”I believe that the representatives of the two respective sides are getting fairly close to a settlement,” Johnson told the committee.

”We will continue talking and negotiating. This will allow the negotiations to continue fairly intensely as they have for about a week.”

Johnson asked the committee to ”authorize us to continue our negotiations, to negotiate a settlement subject to being back in touch with you with the specific details before final closure.”

Andersen failed to complete the project as scheduled by Nov. 15, 1985, and another contractor, Ray Bell Construction Company of Brentwood, finished the work.