Former faculty members sue UTMB over post-Ike layoffs

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Dec. 8, 2010, 3:28am

UTMB School of Medicine

GALVESTON - A group of former professors at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston is suing the school's provost and department chairs in the School of Medicine over the mass layoffs after Hurricane Ike, recent court documents say.

In a lawsuit filed Nov. 22 in Galveston County District Court, the complainants allege that Dr. Garland D. Anderson instructed seven chairs to classify their faculty in their respective departments into three categories in response to the 120-year-old institution's financial exigency in Ike's aftermath, branding the method as a violation of their tenure rights.

The "A" list consisted of highly essential personnel; the "B" list consisted of personnel not as essential as those in the previous list but whose absence would pose a problem in the department; and the "C" list, which consisted of personnel whose positions could no longer be justified under the economic circumstances at the time.

According to the plaintiffs, the provost told any colleague opposed to the move that they would have to name a faculty member to the "C" list under his proposed system without regard to tenure.

The suit shows the alleged practice was not in accordance to the University of Texas Board of Regents' rules or with established practices or procedures established over time for dealing with tenure rights. The defendants acted in bad faith and upon improper personal motivation, the original petition says.

Plaintiffs claim defendant Anderson conducted a review process in which handpicked committee members were not given enough information or allowed access to the names on the "C" list, another violation of regents' rules.

"The representation that the lists had been formed in accordance with the regents' rules was false, and defendant Anderson knew it to be false or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known it to be false," the suit says.

One hundred and twenty-seven School of Medicine faculty, including the plaintiffs, were dismissed.

Consequently, the complainants seek unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

They are represented by attorneys Timothy A. Beeton of Galveston and Micky N. Das of Houston, and Galveston County 212th District Court Judge Susan Criss is presiding over the case.

Case No. 10-cv-4210

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