No one else in this or any other universe is following the Oller case. For those who never heard of it before, here’s some background information, which most of you can skip:
In late December of 2011, John Oller filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where he was (and apparently still is) a professor. The complaint alleged that faculty members of the university’s Communicative Disorders Department discriminated against him and marginalized his position because of his beliefs on creationism and also because he taught about an alleged connection between autism, mercury and vaccinations.
Oller’s lawyer is John B. Wells, who is affiliated with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) — the same outfit that was involved in the David Coppedge case. They have a press release (from January 2012) about Wells’ representation of Oller: ADF files suit in federal court to defend professor’s academic freedom.
After some initial press coverage, and a favorable mention by Ken Ham — see Ken Ham Supports John Oller’s Lawsuit — everything’s gone dark, and we seem to be the only blog following the case. Here’s a link to the docket of court pleadings in Oller v. Roussel et al. Most of the pleadings require a subscription, but you can see a few of them. At the time of our last update, a jury trial was scheduled to start on 21 Jan 2014.
Our last post on this case was John Oller Litigation Update — 04 Nov 2013. The big news then (and the only thing we could learn from the docket without a subscription) was the filing of Oller’s Amended Complaint (a 35-page pdf file) in the last week of October. Despite the new Complaint, there was nothing in the docket about a continuance of the trial.
Now, after checking the docket again, we found that the defendants have filed their Answer to the Amended Complaint. It’s an 8-page pdf file.
There is still nothing in the docket about a continuance. That’s surprising, with a new Complaint and Answer, but the trial is still set for 21 January, which is just about 60 days from now.
[Addendum: Our friends at the National Center for Science Education, who have access to the pleadings that we can’t see, inform us that among a couple of dozen items filed on 01 November 2013 is an order that says:
In light of the parties having filed four (4) motions to extend or continue the trial deadlines in this action and the confusion created by the excessive filings, the parties are to strictly adhere to the following deadlines based on the final trial date of May 19, 2014:
The schedule sets the Pretrial Conference for April 13, 2014, and sets earlier deadlines for concluding things like discovery and pre-trial motions.]
Okay, let’s take a look at the latest Answer. It’s filed on behalf of several individual defendants at the university, who are represented by the Louisiana Attorney General’s office. They deny a few allegations in the Amended Complaint, then they re-allege the first 130 paragraphs of their Answer to the earlier Complaint.
Then they get to their specific defenses. First, they re-allege all the defenses they raised in their original Answer. As to Oller’s claim that he was defamed, the new Answer says:
Defendants plead truth as an absolute defense to defamation claims.
That’s interesting. The Wikipedia article on Defamation (“the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation”), discusses defenses to the charge. They tell us:
In many legal systems, adverse public statements about legal citizens presented as fact must be proven false to be defamatory or slanderous/libellous. Proving adverse public character statements to be true is often the best defense against a prosecution for libel or defamation.
That’s all there is to the Defendants’ latest Answer. The other new pleadings that show up in the docket aren’t available for viewing, but they’re mostly just exhibits. So now you’ve got the latest news.
Will the parties settle? Will there be a continuance, or will the trial take place when scheduled? [Addendum: It’s now set for 19 May 2014.] Will the Discoveroids ever publish at least one blog article in support of Oller? Does anyone other than your Curmudgeon care about this case? Anyone?
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