SLU and professor settle lawsuit
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.
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