John Oller Litigation Update — 02 Sep 2014

Of all the creationist litigation cases we follow, this one has been the least visible. Our last update was almost a year ago, on 18 Nov 2013. 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 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 read a few of them. At the time of our last update, a jury trial was scheduled to start on 21 Jan 2014.

Then Oller filed an Amended Complaint (a 35-page pdf file) in the last week of October, and the defendants filed their Answer to the Amended Complaint. It’s an 8-page pdf file. Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), who have access to the pleadings that we can’t see, informed us that among a couple of dozen items filed on 01 November 2013 is an order that mentioned a final trial date of 19 May 2014.

After that, all we could see was Oller’s Motion for Summary Judgment, which includes his response to an earlier motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Defendants, and then the Defendants filed their Answer to Oller’s Amended Complaint. That was followed by someone’s Motion for Continuance, late in November of 2013. That’s it. And it’s worth mentioning that the Discoveroids have never posted to indicate their solidarity with Oller in his quest for “academic freedom.”

Since then we occasionally look at the docket. It shows that the last batch of documents was filed late in June of 2014, but we can’t read any of them. It’s difficult to believe that nothing has happened since. So what’s going on?

We may have had a break in the long silence. One of our clandestine operatives, whom we believe to be well informed, tells us:

As of August 22, Judge Haik has dismissed all plaintiff’s causes in summary judgments. To be seen if plaintiff will appeal.

Wow — that means the case is over. Unless there’s a successful appeal by Oller, there won’t be any trial. But why hasn’t there been any news about this?

We don’t post about things we can’t verify, and we may regret breaking our rule here, but we’ll take the risk because this is too good to ignore. Besides, it’s been far too long since we’ve had anything to say about this case. We’re hoping that the court docket will soon reflect what our operative says (it doesn’t now), or maybe our friends at NCSE will chime in with their own information. If we’re wrong, we’ll admit it. Until then, we’ll have to wait. Stay tuned to this blog!

Addendum: The 22 August 2014 order was found by one of our commenters. It’s here: Memorandum Ruling. All of Oller’s federal claims were dismissed, and without those, the court doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear his state claims. So this case is over, unless Oller appeals.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

12 responses to “John Oller Litigation Update — 02 Sep 2014

  1. Smart money says there’ll be an appeal, paid for by God knows whom.

  2. Our Curmudgeon promises

    If we’re wrong, we’ll admit it.

    And with that pledge, you have just thrown away any chance at all of ever being hired to write for the Disco’Tute’s blog.

  3. Eric Lipps notes: “Smart money says there’ll be an appeal, paid for by God knows whom.”

    A wag friend of mine once noted: “One lawyer in a town will starve to death; two lawyers in a town will get rich.”

  4. I am not a lawyer, so what do I know, but it sounds to me as if the plaintiff asked the judge to rule in his case because it was so obvious in his favor that he didn’t need a trial – a summary judgment. The judge said that his case was not that good, and will have to go to trial. (I don’t know why the defendants didn’t ask the same on their side. Or maybe they did, but the judge hasn’t ruled, one way or the other, on that.)

    And in the off-chance that I’m right about that – let me try my luck – it would really hard to get an appeal on a denial of summary judgment.

  5. TomS says: ” it sounds to me as if the plaintiff asked the judge to rule in his case because it was so obvious in his favor that he didn’t need a trial – a summary judgment. The judge said that his case was not that good, and will have to go to trial.”

    Earlier in the case, both sides had asked for summary judgment on the same issues. If that happened again on the latest complaint, it’s quite possible that the defendants’ motions were granted. Which would mean that the judge ruled — as a matter of law — Oller has no case at all, so he doesn’t get a trial.

    It might be easier to win a reversal of a summary judgement. The appellate court considers itself quite competent to decide if the judge made the right decision as a matter of law. It’s when there are facts involved, and the judge heard the witnesses, that the appellate courts are reluctant to override the trial court’s decision. After all, he heard the witnesses, so he was in a better position to decide things.

  6. That’s it, Clan de Stein. Thank you. I’ll add something to original post that mentions this.

  7. Clan de Stein

    In fact, the ruling itself (not on line) dismisses all remaining claims even at state level. The one remaking state level item could of course be re-filed in state court by plaintiff.

  8. Clan de Stein

    Worth also noting that at least partly due to this case, I understand, that UL lost one of its best Deans to retirement and two internationally renowned professors to a university overseas….

  9. Clan: at least partly due to this case, I understand, that UL lost one of its best Deans to retirement and two internationally renowned professors to a university overseas….

    I had not heard that. Please tell us more. Were they forced out because they were pro-Oller or anti-Oller?

  10. Clan de Stein

    Two were defendants and one spouse of a defendant. Thus anti.

  11. So this case is over, unless Oller appeals.

    For me this is a no brainer. If his “position was marginalized because of his beliefs on creationism” I hope he appeals and wins. But if it was because he misrepresented science he deserves to be banned from teaching anywhere.