Monday, September 28, 2009
Peter Schmidt wrote an excellent Oct. 2, 2009 article for The Chronicle Of Higher Education entitled "Professors Are Pitched Lawsuit Protection." (registration required). It discusses an issue that professors do not like to talk about-being sued. Professors can be sued for defamation or worse yet for sexual harassment. Fortunately, as the article states, insurance can be purchased at very affordable rates. Unfortunately, most profs do not take advantage of this.
The article features a law professor who was threatened with a defamation lawsuit for something she wrote in a law review article. As the article states:
Merle H. Weiner, a professor of law at the University of Oregon, received two rude surprises after the University of San Francisco Law Review published her article about how international courts treat domestic-violence victims.
The first was that the plaintiff in a case she had cited in her footnotes accused her of defamation and threatened to sue her if she did not remove a reference to him in versions published online.
The article is not written for lawyers. Therefore, we do not why the university was not responsible. Seems to me that with respect to scholarship, the university is generally responsible because the prof is working within the scope of his or her employment. Sexual harassment cases are a bit different, but I am even aware of cases on the secondary level holding that school districts have a duty to defend such suits.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein