Press "Enter" to skip to content

Geller loses big case against UO and higher education

Update: WSJ law blog post here.

10/18/2012: This is the Emeldi suit against the UO Ed School. It’s a big deal, the decision is going to make it much easier for students to sue professors. Interestingly the decision was written by 3 judges, the dissent by 7. From Scott Jaschik in IHE. The dissent:

“[T]he panel overlooks the critical differences between academia and the outside world. It applies the law so loosely that one of the laxest interpretations of the pleading standard is now planted squarely in academia, just where the pleading standard should be highest,” the dissent adds. “If this ill-considered precedent stands, professors will have to think twice before giving honest evaluations of their students for fear that disgruntled students may haul them into court. This is a loss for professors and students and for society, which depends on their creative ferment.”

… Randy Geller, general counsel of the University of Oregon, said via e-mail: “We will evaluate the decision, including the dissent signed by seven Ninth Circuit judges, and determine whether to seek additional appellate review.” 

Actually Geller wasn’t really on the case, and we all hope he will not be making any decisions about whether or how to appeal. UO hires competent outside counsel for situations like this, here this included Denise Gale Fjordbeck, Assistant Attorney General and Bruce Campbell of Miller Nash. Geller wanted to hire Frohnmayer’s firm, but Kroger said no. No word on how much this has cost so far. Full decision and dissent here.


  1. Law Professor 10/19/2012

    I think faculty have reason to be concerned about their rights. But anyone reading the initial court decision would say that the fault lies with the administration. Basically, the court did not believe Maryann Friestadt’s acount of how this was handled. [See p. 3273] Anyone that dealt with Friestadt, and reads the court’s account, would conclude that she was incompetent, or lying, or both; whichever, the Ed School faculty end up holding the bag.
    If we want to protect faculty rights, we should have administrators that understand the law. None of the sociologists that run the U of O – including the grad school – have any training in these areas. They will continue to put you in compromising situations.

    • uomatters 10/19/2012

      Thank you for this informative and cautionary comment.

    • Old Man 10/22/2012

      If JH had access to competent legal advice, such screw-ups might be reduced.

  2. Anonymous 10/19/2012

    If you’re going to libel someone, at least “Law Professor” can get her name right: “Marian Friestad” not “Maryann.”

  3. uomatters 10/19/2012

    Thank you for this informative and cautionary comment.

  4. Anonymous 10/21/2012

    Personally, I back Emeldi. Grad students need to feel that they can file legitimate complaints without fear of any of their various committees or committee members will torpedo their work, and thus, ultimately, their career, in retaliation.

    This is the U of O, after all, where retaliation and cover-ups are the name of the game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *