November 26, 2014  

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Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Southern Miss

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The University of Southern Mississippi has received a favorable ruling from U.S. District Court in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former professor.

U.S. District Court Judge Keith Starrett dismissed all claims against the University, its former President Martha Saunders and former Provost Robert Lyman in a July 2012 lawsuit filed by Scott L. Klingler.

A former faculty member in the School of Library and Information Science, Klingler sought actual and punitive damages, alleging the University fired him from his tenure-track position. He alleged violations of his contract and his civil rights, also naming Saunders and Lyman as defendants. In the suit, Klingler alleged that he was not given a reason for his termination.

“The court concludes that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and all the defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on all Dr. Klingler’s claims,” Starrett wrote in his order. “No showing has been made that Dr. Saunders and Dr. Lyman were acting outside the course and scope of their employment when they made their respective decisions regarding Dr. Klingler.”

Starrett ruled that Southern Miss and its administrators neither violated terms of Klingler’s contract, nor his constitutional rights. The judge further noted that Klingler was provided a grievance conference, but Klingler and his counsel chose not to appear. 

“No reasonable jury could conclude that Dr. Klingler was deprived of notice of the charges against him or the opportunity to contest those charges and clear his name under this set of facts,” Starrett wrote.