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Big News: Yoder Wins Case Against UofL

August 3rd, 2009 · 14 Comments

Really big news here:

Nina Yoder just won a summary judgment against the University of Louisville.

For background: Explosive Problem for the University of Louisville – Nursing Student Expelled for MySpace Blog

Details to follow.

UPDATE

From the Court opinion:

Yoder specifically alleges that Defendants violated her First Amendment right to free speech by dismissing her from the SON based on the Blog Post. Yoder argues that the Honor Code is unconstitutionally broad and that the Confidentiality Agreement is unconstitutionally vague. Yoder further alleges that Defendants violated her Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process by depriving her of the interest in her education without adequate notice and the opportunity to be heard.

Defendants assert that this is not a free speech case. They argue that Yoder violated her obligations as a nursing student and was dismissed from the SON program for those specific violations. They further contend that even if this were a free speech case, the Blog Post is not protected by the First Amendment. Defendants also allege that both the Honor Code and Confidentiality Agreement are constitutional, and that Yoder was afforded all the due process to which she was entitled. Defendants additionally argue that this action is barred because Yoder failed to exhaust her University remedies and that they are immune from damages.

Getting into the meat of things:

As a preliminary matter, this action is not barred for failure to exhaust University remedies.

-SNIP-

Yoder was dismissed from the SON because Defendants found that her Blog Post violated both the Honor Code and the Confidentiality Agreement. However, upon review of the relevant texts, the court finds that the Blog Post does not violate either of these two agreements. Therefore, there is no basis for Defendants’ dismissal of Yoder from the SON.

-SNIP-

In sum, the Blog Post does not contain information that could possibly lead to the discovery of the birth mother’s identity. Therefore, the Blog Post does not violate the confidentiality provision of the Honor Code by Defendants’ own terms, nor the Confidentiality Agreement.

-SNIP-

To be sure, Yoder’s attempt at humor was an abject failure. Her observations on women, children, motherhood and the birthing process are, for the most part, crass and uncouth. The court most certainly does not approve of the language used. However, to be fair, the Blog Post does end with a reversal of attitude and a departing message that is positive — life-affirming, even — if perversely so. Yoder writes that she is “overwhelmed with emotions and new knowledge and experience,” and ultimately concludes that she wants another baby of her own.

Regardless, the court does not judge the Blog Post on its comedic or literary merit. Despite what we, or Defendants, may think of it, the Blog Post does not violate the professionalism provision of the Honor Code because it was not created or used in any professional context.

And the moment we’ve all been waiting for, when United States District Court Judge Charles R. Simpson III hands the smack-down to UofL:

In this case, the SON has taken a crude attempt at humor done in a non-professional context, and attempted to shoe-horn it into a violation of a “professionalism” promise which speaks to conduct as a “representative of the School of Nursing.” That square peg doesn’t fit the found hole which the facts disclose. Accordingly, there is no basis for Defendants’ dismissal of Yoder from the SON.

Yoder must be reinstated as a student at the SON and allowed to return to classes immediately. Because Yoder succeeds on her motion for summary judgment on nonconstitutional grounds, we need not address liability for damages…

-SNIP-

Because the court finds that there are no genuine issues of fact and Yoder is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law, Yoder’s motion for summary judgment will be granted and Defendants’ cross-motion will be denied.

Click here (Warning: PDF Link) for the entire opinion.

So there you have it. The University of Louisville not only wrongly expelled a student from the School of Nursing, the University’s legal team wasted your tax dollars fighting everything in court.

Yet more proof that Jim Ramsey and Shirley Willihnganz are derelict of their duty as leaders of the school.

Yet more proof that common sense can prevail and that the freedom of speech is important in this country– despite the fact that the University of Louisville fought hard against both.

Tags: Corruption · Discrimination · Education · First Amendment · UofL

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 tbrauch // Aug 3, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    I wonder if the legal bills have surpassed $113,858 for the year?

  • 2 Paul // Aug 3, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Louisville- Possibillity City. The possibillity your constitutional rights will be violated by politicians.

  • 3 le gardien de but // Aug 3, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    U of L–”IT’s happening here”. “What’s IT???” say it fast, 3 times—LOL…
    In the middle of a tenure fight years ago, an attorney told me that the university routinely gets caught in court not following their own policies & procedures…
    History repeats itself–get U of L into court & chances of success are good……
    Hopefully U of L will not blow more $$$ on endless appeals…
    I also note that the university was trying to hide behind the excuse of not exhausting on all campus processes. The administration truly believes that either their rules (amorphous & flexible) have the rule of law or they are above the law. …
    As a member of the campus grievance committee, let me add that one key thing wrong with the grievance process was SW & JR not following the rules; any update is worthless unless SW & JR change their modus operandi….

  • 4 Steve Magruder (I, not D or R) // Aug 3, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Setting aside the legal perspective, there’s also common sense to address. Ms. Yoder used “crass, uncouth” language publicly to discuss professional experiences. This might affect her ability to be hired after college. But she can probably roll this back if she goes back online with a much more professional perspective of things. In other words, make people forget the bad, by demonstrating some reflection and following up with a lot of good works.

  • 5 jake // Aug 3, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    She was ignorant enough to say ridiculous crap – but it’s her right to do so.

    And if it hurts her ability – and it likely will – to get a job after college? Then so be it. She’s an adult and will have to take responsibility for her actions.

  • 6 Novena // Aug 3, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    “Down Go UofL’s Thought Police”

    The UofL, as an institution, was attempting to take away Ms. Yoder’s freedom to think–the very lifeblood of a true university. Does it fear thought that may be different from any of its pedestrian administrators? I’m glad the court acted like Brandeis and Holmes rather than JR or SW.

  • 7 Ray Re // Aug 3, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Nina, on your first day back in class, please resist the temptation to drop your pants, slap your back cheeks, and cry out NEENER NEENER NEENER. Now that would be un-professional . BTW It’s almost as if the judge read the comments section, ain’t it? Way to make a bullshit stand, U of L. Compare and contrast your vaunted procedures with the Felner episodes.

  • 8 Flag // Aug 3, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    UofL’s position and response on this matter, which now have led to a public abject failure, was yet another example of the holier-than-thou administration rallying blindly, and bullyingly, behind an inept action of one of their own in charge at the school level… or did they participate from the get go?

  • 9 EdenSprings // Aug 3, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Thank God there is still at least one judge who can uphold the constitution! Too bad for Don’t-Know-Jack Conway that he once again sided with those in power rather than doing the right thing. Perhaps he’ll find those missing nads of his before he runs for Bunning’s seat, but history predicts, “Nah!” Still, he IS pretty!

  • 10 marie // Aug 3, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Bouquets (for the judge) and congrats to Nina!

    No one at U of L follows rules, and they’ll entrap you with last-minute “policy changes.” I was once expected to sign something sent over from Administration, the text/writing being completely covered and no explanation given as to what the document said.

    There’s no place quite like it!

  • 11 tbrauch // Aug 4, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    So does she have to pay tuition for the classes she will have to retake?

    That wouldn’t seem fair.

  • 12 ::Fist pump:: MySpace nursing student wins free speech case « Not Nurse Ratched // Aug 4, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    [...] August 3rd, 2009 ยท 11 Comments [...]

  • 13 nurseynurse // Aug 4, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    I thought that the whole “honor code” was bizarre (to be polite about it) when I was forced to sign it as a condition of attending U of L’s SON. In fact, I was shocked and somewhat offended that they forced it on us. I felt as if they were saying they didn’t trust us “the future nurses” not to cheat or partake in other dishonorable conduct. Indeed, the code is vague to the extent to leave in question almost any activity, especially if taken out of context. Overall, it seems to have done more to create feelings of distrust between students and the SON, than to prevent any of the behavior they were making such a desperate attempt to avoid. Obviously, Miss Yoder proves my point! Although I find many of her comments reprehensible, question her motives entering the field of nursing, wonder whether or not her poor attitude will permit her to practice effectively, and pray I never have to call her a colleague…I am glad her case has added to the fodder that supports our right to free speech!

  • 14 Novena // Aug 5, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    “Codes of Conduct, Codes of Mediocrity”

    Nurseynurse, good points about codes of conduct. They are typically grounded out by conventional minds to oversee conventional behavior. They do not encourage moral development beyond the level of Dear Abby, Anne Landers, or Billy Graham. They do not prod professionals to think for themselves or use their own better judgment. But we are speaking about UofL here . . .