Tag Archives: STLtoday

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 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.

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

Shout Out to College Media Matters Blog

Special thanks to Dan Reimold at College Media Matters for providing an update on the Avis case and the latest Post-Dispatch article.

Please check out his article Judgment in St. Louis U. Lawsuit Against Student Paper Adviser.

Like us, Dan was particularly happy to see a smile on Avis’ face.

Thanks for your continued support and interest in this ongoing matter.

“Most of SLU’s trademark suit against professor is rejected” -STL Post-Dispatch

Avis Meyer on STLtoday.com

Avis Meyer on STLtoday.com

Just wanted to share a belated Christmas gift with all of you.

I have not yet been able to locate this link on the http://www.stltoday.com web site. I will post it when I find it. [UPDATE 12/28: The link to the story is http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/education/story/699D7BAD750B1E6F8625752C000EAF07?OpenDocument]

In the mean time, please enjoy Kavita Kumar’s latest article about the latest developments in the SLU v. Avis Meyer case. Judge Carol Jackson has dismissed six of the seven counts in the case.

Reprinted from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Metro A8

Most of SLU’s trademark suit against professor is rejected
By Kavita Kumar

A federal judge has thrown out most of St. Louis University’s trademark infringement lawsuit against communcations professor Avis Meyer.

The university sued Meyer in October 2007, several months after Meyer had filed papers with the Missouri secretary of state’s office to create a nonprofit entity with the name of the university’s student newspaper, “The University News, a Student Voice Serving Saint Louis University Since 1921.”

Meyer’s lawyers asked the judge to dismiss six of the seven counts, arguing that Meyer did not publicly use the name of the corporation. The judge agreed that Meyer had not used the university’s name “in commerce” and upheld Meyer’s motion for summary judgement in an order filed Wednesday.

“The University will be reviewing the decision and will have no additional comment at this time,” SLU said in a statement Friday.

Meyer, a former copy editor at the Post-Dispatch who has served as the official and unofficial adviser of the student newspaper for decades, has butted heads with SLU administrators in the past. The more recent flare-up came in the spring of 2007 when SLU officials proposed changes to the newspaper’s charter. Some student editors balked at the changes and claimed that they were just trying to improve the quality of the newspaper.

Meyer told the court that he had created the nonprofit group during the charter fight because he wanted to “reserve” the name of the newspaper in case students decided not to accept the changes and wanted to move the newspaper off campus. But students ended up agreeing to the university’s terms. And at the university’s prodding, Meyer dissolved the corporation. Meyer never produced a newspaper or other publication under the non-profit.

Still, SLU sued Meyer in the hopes of barring him from ever using the university’s name or that of the student newspaper. The university sought monetary damages as well as compensation for attorney’s fees.

Over the summer, SLU barred Meyer from going to the student newspaper office, saying that his disagreements with the university’s news adviser had created confusion and a tense atmosphere for students. A university spokesman said that issue unrelated to the lawsuit.

In July, SLU also filed a motion with the court aksing for sanctions against Meyer for deleting e-mails in which he communicated with others about the lawsuit and his dispute with the university.

In the court’s order on Wednesday, Judge Carol Jackson said she will address that issue in a separate ruling.