Deaths, Defamation, Free Speech, Law Professors, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Lawsuit of the Day

Lawsuit of the Day: Widener Law Professor Sues Dean for Defamation

Remember Lawrence Connell, the professor at Widener Law School who got in trouble for coming up with teaching hypotheticals in which he killed Dean Linda Ammons? Well, perhaps Professor Connell wishes the dean’s death was more than hypothetical.

Apparently Professor Connell wants to slay Dean Ammons — in a court of law. He has sued the dean for defamation.

Suing your current boss or employer — as opposed to suing after you’re gone, a la Matthew Kluger v. Fried Frank — can be awkward. Just ask JoEllen Lyons Dillon of Reed Smith or Raymond Carey of Foley & Lardner, two partners who have sued the law firms where they still work.

But they don’t have tenure, unlike Larry Connell. Let’s see what the good professor is suing over….

Here’s some info from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Lawrence J. Connell, an associate professor at the school, has accused dean Linda L. Ammons of intentionally making false statements that characterize Connell as a racist and sexist in administrative proceedings to oust the professor.

Attorneys for Connell said the suit was filed Friday in Delaware Superior Court.

Speaking at a news conference, Connell said, “Ammons has destroyed my reputation because of my conservative, political and legal beliefs.”

Connell seems to be saying he was punished for his ideology. But aren’t conservative law professors already gluttons for punishment?

Connell is accused of using hypothetical examples in which he “decided to shoot Dean Ammons and then blew her head off,” according to student allegations students made to university officials and included in court documents.

Connell admitted using Ammons in hypothetical scenarios in which he is a perpetrator who attempts to shoot the dean, but denied that she was shot in the examples. He called such techniques part of a teacher’s academic freedom. “Law professors have sworn under oath in writing to Ammons that my teaching method of poking fun at administrators, black and white, during classroom examples . . . is well accepted and used nationwide,” he said.

Using “quirky hypotheticals,” such as the one involving Ammons, “captures students’ attention,” he said, adding, “Class material can be depressing. It is a way to lighten the atmosphere and help them remember the principles being taught.”

Readers, what do you think? Are these hypotheticals acceptable, or did they cross the line?

Widener professor accuses dean of defamation [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Professor sues Widener Law dean for defamation [Delaware News Journal]
Widener Law Prof Whose Hypothetical Involved Dean’s Murder Now Sues Her in Real-Life Defamation Case [ABA Journal]

Earlier: Widener Law School Still Isn’t Telling Students Its Stance on the ‘Dean Killing’ Hypothetical

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