Tag Archives: St. Louis

Riverfront Times posts about Movie Trivia Night

Chad Garrison of the St. Louis RFT posted about the upcoming Avis Meyer Movie Trivia night. Visit the RFT site to read the article in its entirety. Please note that the date of the event is Sunday, May 3 (it is misprinted in the article).

Fundraiser Planned for Embattled SLU Journalism Mentor, Avis Meyer

meyeravis.jpg
slu.edu
Avis Meyer

A legal battle with his employer, Saint Louis University, has left Avis Meyer with legal bills “approaching the six-figure” mark.

As you may recall, the university sued Meyer back in 2007 after the longtime journalism adviser established a non-profit entity with the exact same name as the student paper, The University News.

At the time, SLU officials were proposing a charter change for the paper and Meyer claimed he was concerned that the administration planned to wrest control of the publication from the students. The non-profit would allow the students to continue the paper off-campus should they not agree to the new charter.

In the end, the students voted in favor of the charter and Meyer dissolved the non-profit. It could have ended there.
Instead the university filed suit against Meyer to ensure that he would never use the paper’s name in the future. The lawsuit was settled last month. A federal judge dismissed six of the seven charges against Meyer. (Meyer is also banned from the newsroom, though he continues to teach communications courses at the university and the newspaper’s staff considers him its faculty mentor.)

The seventh charge in the lawsuit, alleging that Meyer destroyed e-mail evidence, was settled. It requires that he teach one summer course for free at the school. If Meyer cannot — for whatever reason — teach the course, his wife must pay the university $6,000.

“I was amazed that they asked my wife, a fourth grade school teacher at a Catholic school, to sign a document saying if something happens to me she owes Saint Louis U. six grand,” Meyer told the student paper last month.

When I spoke to him yesterday, Meyer did not want to talk about the lawsuit so much as he did the fundraiser planned for him on May 2. Friends and former students are putting on the event — a movie trivia night at the Richmond Heights Community Center.

“It’s incredibly humbling that all these people are wanting to help,” says Meyer, who crafted all 100 questions for the competition. “From what I’m told the event is already half full. I know my wife is planning to bake lemon bars for sale for three days prior to to the event.”

Post-Dispatch columnist and film critic, Joe Holleman, is emceeing the trivia. For more information and tickets, visit the Friends of Avis Meyer Legal Defense Fund.

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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


Post-Dispatch: Trial of SLU v. Avis Meyer Begins

Click here to read the story on STLToday.com.

Trial of SLU v. Avis Meyer Begins
Kavita Kumar – St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I checked in this morning on the first day of the trial of SLU vs. Avis Meyer. As you may remember, SLU filed a federal lawsuit against Meyer, a tenured professor, in October 2007 for copyright infringement. (Click here for some background on the case.)

Judge Carol Jackson threw out most of SLU’s case in December. But one of the seven counts still remains unresolved. The remaining issue is over the fact that Meyer used SLU letterhead and a SLU fax number to send a letter to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office to dissolve a non-profit corporation he had created with SLU’s name in it. Frank Janoski, a lawyer representing SLU, argued today that SLU had not authorized Meyer to use its address and letterhead for this purpose. (The main issue in the case had been that Meyer filed papers to create a non-profit with the same name of the SLU student newspaper. He later dissolved the corporation. SLU decided to sue later, but the court ruled in favor of Meyer because SLU did not show how Meyer had used SLU’s name “in commerce.”)

Judge Jackson seemed quite miffed that both parties were still fighting this last point. After both sides presented their opening statements, she said that she doesn’t understand why there was still a problem. She said she understood both sides distrust one another.

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

Janoski told the court that SLU wants Meyer to correct the record with the secretary of state’s office, wants assurances that Meyer will not use SLU’s name in the future, and wants compensation for attorney’s fees.

Meyer’s attorney, Brian Gill, said that Meyer is prepared to file the requested paperwork with the secretary of state’s office and that he does not plan to use SLU’s name to produce a newspaper in the future.

Janoski said SLU wouldn’t be in court if it had received assurances from Meyer upfront that he wouldn’t again try to use SLU’s name. He added that SLU must protect its name and is not treating Meyer differently than it would any other person or entity.

But Gill suggested otherwise in his opening statement when he said that the way that SLU has pursued this case “would impress even one of Victor Hugo’s inspectors.”

At the judge’s prodding, both sides decided to try to find a compromise. The proceeding was recessed this morning and both sides still appear to be hashing out some sort of settlement. So stay tuned to see what happens. If they can’t reach a compromise, then the trial will resume on the final count. Janoski told the court that testimony from his witnesses would likely take 4 to 5 hours.

Before the opening statements, Jackson also gave Meyer a strong rebuke for destroying some emails. She said she didn’t believe Meyer was trying to thwart SLU’s case, but she said that it was nonetheless “thoughtless and reckless.”

“I’m very troubled by the manner in which the emails were handled by Dr. Meyer,” she said. “This is the kind of behavior that should have never occurred.”

As punishment, she said she would charge Meyer for SLU’s attorney’s fees tied to the related motion.

A handful of SLU professors as well as Meyer’s family was in attendance to show support for him.

Update on today’s settlement

I received more information today about the SLU v. Meyer case this evening. The judge has two days to accept the terms of the settlement. Among the settlement terms there is a chance of a misdemeanor along with reimbursement of a small portion of SLU’s legal fees. These concessions would be made in return for continued tenure and a clean slate.

Given the matters of the last two years, what a relief to see the case coming to a close. Thank you again to all of the alumni, journalists and community members for your support.

Please check back soon for more information on the judge’s final decision.

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.

Shout out to the St. Louis Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

A special thanks for the continued support of the St. Louis Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

In their May 2, 2007 position statement (see link below), the Chapter had this to say about the controversy:

The St. Louis Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is troubled by reports concerning the University News, the student newspaper at Saint Louis University….

We urge the university administration to work with the newspaper staff to resolve any dispute in open and transparent dialogue…

A student newspaper is not an instrument that belongs solely to the university. The newspaper is a public forum where students can freely express themselves and exchange ideas about their community and the world. It should reflect the academic and intellectual freedom found in an internationally renowned institution of higher education….

Here are a couple links to read more about what they have to say about the Saint Louis University/University News/Avis Meyer issue: