Judge: Employment didn't muzzle LSU scientist Ivor van Heerden
~U.S. District Judge James J. Brady rejected LSU's argument that van Heerden was speaking as a faculty member when he criticized work by the Army Corps of Engineers. That keeps his First Amendment claim alive under a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that public employees don't have free-speech protections for what they say as part of their jobs. "Although it is a close question, van Heerden was not acting within his official job duties," Brady wrote in an Oct. 20 summary judgment — one based entirely on court documents, without oral arguments.
The judge rejected several of van Heerden's claims, including one of conspiracy, one for breach of contract and one that LSU officials intentionally caused him emotional distress. "The record evidence shows their conduct at various times may have been rude, unfair, mean, or calculated to embarrass van Heerden, but none of it contains that extra dose of cruelty necessary for the Court to conclude it was intended to cause severe distress," Brady wrote.