Tag Archives: Father Biondi

Letter to the Editor: SLU’s Vendetta against professor is shameful

Julian Long’s Letter to the Editor was published on STLToday on March 5. We agree with many of  Long’s points, including that all the dirty details of the case have not been outted by the Post-Dispatch. We’re sure details will come to light as time goes on, but for now, Long’s claim that SLU required Mrs. Meyer sign an agreement that she would owe the University $6,000 if Dr. Meyer passed away before the end of June 2009 is true. Our advice to Avis? Wear a bullet proof vest and look both ways before crossing Grand.

Read Long’s letter on STLToday.com

03.05.2009 5:10 pm

SLU’s vendetta against professor is shameful

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I was present in the courtroom last Monday at the close of Saint Louis University’s lawsuit against Professor Avis Meyer. Having watched your reporter speak with SLU administrators I am not surprised that your story entitled “SLU and professor settle lawsuit” seems to consist almost entirely of university spin, though apparently Post-Dispatch representatives contacted Professor Meyer before the story ran.

Your story’s lead states that Professor Meyer has agreed “to pay the university $6000 plus certain legal fees” and “refrain from illegally using the university’s name.” Then the next five paragraphs give what appears to be the university’s version of the history of the lawsuit and imply that the university won its case. That simply isn’t true. The university “won” only one point, a claim that Professor Meyer had deleted certain email messages.

SLU lost this lawsuit on the merits, and not with any grace or dignity. In a final sorry gesture, SLU administrators demanded that Mrs. Meyer—yes, Mrs. Meyer—sign an affidavit agreeing to pay the university in case of Professor Meyer’s untimely death. The real story of the SLU vendetta against Avis Meyer is equally sorry. It shames Saint Louis University, and it shames the Society of Jesus. It’s too bad the Post-Dispatch won’t report it.

Julian Long

St. Louis

Post-Dispatch: SLU and professor settle lawsuit

Click here to read this story on STLToday.com.

SLU and professor settle lawsuit
Avis Meyer

Avis Meyer
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

St. Louis University communications professor Avis Meyer has agreed to pay the university $6,000 plus certain legal fees and to refrain from illegally using the university’s name, in a settlement approved by a federal judge Tuesday.

This resolves the final count remaining in a copyright infringement lawsuit SLU brought against Meyer in October 2007. In December, Judge Carol Jackson had thrown out six other counts in SLU’s case because she said the school hadn’t shown that Meyer had used the university’s name for commercial gain.

The dispute arose after Meyer filed paperwork with the Missouri secretary of state’s office to create a nonprofit organization with the same name as the student newspaper. Meyer, who has been the newspaper’s official and unofficial adviser, said he did so in case students wanted to take the newspaper off campus.

Students had been fighting with administrators in the spring of 2007 over proposed changes to the newspaper’s charter. But in the end, the students decided to stay on campus. So Meyer dissolved the corporation.

Jeff Fowler, a SLU spokesman, said Tuesday: “We feel like this is a victory for the university. ”

But Meyer offered a different take on the outcome.

“I think losing one out of seven might be considered a victory for us,” he said, referring to himself and the newspaper staff.

When the federal trial began on Monday, Jackson ordered Meyer to pay SLU’s legal fees related to their complaints over his destruction of certain e-mails. Jackson said she didn’t believe Meyer was trying to thwart SLU’s case, but she said his actions were “thoughtless and reckless.”

SLU believes that if those e-mails had not been destroyed, then the first six counts would have been upheld, Fowler said. He said SLU has not yet decided whether it will appeal the dismissal of the other six counts.

Both parties finally decided to sit down to find an agreement after a bewildered Jackson asked them on Monday why they’re not able to find a resolution to the last issue. She said she understood there is a lot of distrust between both sides.

“But there’s really not a whole lot here,” she said. “I’m sorry, I just don’t know why we’re here.”

The court recessed as both sides then hashed out an agreement.

SLU has said all along that it was not treating Meyer any differently than it would anyone else who tried to unlawfully use the university’s name.

But Meyer and his supporters have suggested otherwise. In his opening statement, Brian Gill, Meyer’s attorney, said that the way that SLU has pursued this case “would impress even one of Victor Hugo’s inspectors.”

Meyer is a former part-time copy editor for the Post-Dispatch.

kkumar@post-dispatch.com | 314-340-8017


SLU v. Avis Meyer Case Settled

As of 4:15pm, both sides have settled in the SLU v. Avis Meyer case.

The details of the settlement have not yet been released.  SLU will be reimbursed for a portion of attorney’s fees, but the final amount has not been disclosed.  According to an audience member in court, the judge will “sign off” on the settled issues tomorrow morning.

This means that the legal battle is over and Dr. Avis Meyer was not found guilty of any of the seven charges set forth by Saint Louis University. (Update at 10pm on 3/2/09: https://saveavis.wordpress.com/2009/03/03/update-on-todays-settlement/)

The news is there’s no news

Just heard from Amy George Rush that when she left at 2:30 p.m., both sides were STILL meeting. According to Amy, “the prevailing theory—SLU was draining the clock ($$$).”

We’re waiting for some type of decision or announcement… and we’ll post as soon as we know more!

Latest News from Courthouse

Hello all, I just got back from the court house and wanted to provide an update.

First Judge Jackson settled some minor motions and other things starting at 9:30, by 10:30am both sides had given their opening statements. Then, the judge asked both sites “What are we doing here?” and urged both sides to come to an agreement outside of trial. At that time, SLU’s attorneys asked for some time to think.

They spent the next 2 hours or so in private meetings discussing the matter, even bringing SLU’s PR and administration staff into the meetings at times. One person even said they heard Biondi on speaker phone. After awhile, Meyer’s attorneys visited the SLU conference room and it appeared that the two sides were negotiating.

It was nice to see that the Meyer family, SLU faculty members, a handful of alumni and several reporters made it to the trial to support Avis.

I had to leave the courthouse at 12:45 to get back to work. As soon as I know more, I will post it here.

Final Charge to Be Decided March 2nd

The last charge against Dr. Meyer will be decided in federal court by Judge Carol Jackson – during an OPEN SESSION – on Monday, March 2, at 9:30 a.m. on the 8th or 9th floor of the Eagleton building. We will confirm details closer to the court date, so check back.

If you are interested in attending, please contact the Save Avis Yahoo! Group or leave a comment on the blog and we’ll get back to you with more information.

We’re expecting the  St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the STL Journalism Review and the U News to cover the story.

Did you know that the charge, that Meyer invoked the name of a benevolent society (the Jesuit order), is based on a 1932 law that hasn’t been enacted since the Depression?

Latest estimates reveal that SLU has amassed a $200,000-plus legal bill to fight Dr. Meyer over the past couple of years. The school is paying attorneys $375 an hour (plus extra charges for legal assistants) to fight this losing battle.

What a shame to spend donors and tuition dollars on such a debacle.

Special thanks to Amy for this additional information.

Charles in Charge

Charles Klotzer, founder of the St. Louis Journalism Review, wrote in to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to tell readers a little more on the backstory between Avis Meyer and Larry Biondi this week:

Sin of omission: The back story on SLU professor controversy (click to see the story posted on STLToday.com)

The story “Most of SLU’s trademark suit against professor is rejected” (Dec. 27), about the controversy between St. Louis University and tenured professor Avis Meyer, typifies what ails American journalism more than the sins of commission: the sins of omission.

The article is accurate, factual and well-written, but it is only one paragraph in a story that has been festering for decades, which the Post-Dispatch apparently has decided not to cover in depth. That decision misleads readers into believing that what they have read is a complete report.

Remarkably, the report fails to mention even once the key actor in this story that is part comedy and part tragedy: SLU President Lawrence Biondi. He has been upset for decades with the school newspaper for exposing missteps by him many years ago. For decades, Mr. Meyer was the respected and beloved adviser of the school’s newspaper (while the school has barred him from continuing in that role, students still consult him privately). Mr. Biondi simply blames Mr. Meyer for failing to protect him. School newspaper advisers are not protectors of the school administration. Mr. Meyer is foremost an ethical journalist, not a handmaiden to the university. Mr. Biondi never has forgiven Mr. Meyer and has schemed to oust him ever since.

This is the core of the story that always should be included in any story of the Biondi-Meyer controversy. Not doing so reveals either ignorance or a willingness to protect Mr. Biondi.

Charles L. Klotzer | University City

Founder, St. Louis Journalism Review