Lawsuit By Former St. Joseph’s Prof. Greg Manco Can Go Forward Against University And Others, Court Rules
Much of the case goes forward, including (at least in part), defamation, retaliation, breach of contract, false light, and tortious interference.
You may remember our extensive coverage starting in February 2021 of the targeting of Prof. Greg Manco at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. It was a particularly ugly story of campus cancel culture that swept academia as a corollary to the BLM riots and violence of the summer of 2020.
With each of these stories that we have covered over the past years, I’m inclined to say “this is the worst” I’ve ever seen. But then comes along something worse. If you haven’t gone through it yourself, you can’t understand.
I don’t know if the abuse directed at Prof. Manco was “the worst”, but it was bad, as we explained in our first post, Saint Joseph’s U Math Prof. Gregory Manco Targeted For Cancellation Over Tweet Opposing Reparations. The very short version is that a student “doxxed” Prof. Manco as being the person behind a Twitter account which tweeted politically incorrect things, leading to claims Prof. Manco was racist and so on.
The targeting initially was by students, but then the administration’s reaction became an issue, The FIRE: St. Joseph’s U violated academic freedom of Prof. Greg Manco.
Our original post has a lot of screenshots, that are linked above. This was a student mob forming trying to get Prof. Manco fired for the fun of it. The administration almost immediately put Prof. Manco on paid leave. But the mob was not satisfied and continued the demands that Prof. Manco be fired.
As we have seen in other cases, when the original claims were shown to be false, new claims were made and attempts were made to make complaints about classroom conduct that never were made before…
Then, surprise, St. Joseph’s investigation ended and Prof. Manco was Cleared Of Student Bias Accusations. But that’s not how the university spun it – the university said there was inconclusive evidence, something Prof. Manco disputed was an accurate statement about the 10-page investigative report …
Surprise, it wasn’t over.
We lost track of the story, but apparently Prof. Manco was not renewed, then was hired in a lower category, and now he’s suing both the university, a faculty member, and some of the former students. The lawsuit was first disclosed by Todd Shepherd on the Broad and Liberty website….
The original complaint was amended a couple of times, and motions to dismiss were filed. The Court just ruled on the motions, leaving dismissing some claims, but leaving many claims that are key to Prof. Manco’s case. You can read the Memorandum Opinion (full embed below) and should, it’s a complicated ruling as to what remains in the case and what is dismissed. There’s no easy way to diagram it because, for example, there were mulitple allegedly defamatory statements by multiple defendants, some survived against some defendants.
Here is how the court summarized the rulings in the conclusion (I’ve highlighted what survived):
For all the reasons set forth above, the motions to dismiss of defendants are granted in part and denied in part. Specifically, Plaintiff’s claim for wrongful termination in Count I is dismissed, the claim for defamation found in Count II is dismissed in its entirety as to Defendants SJU, McConnell, and Liebell and dismissed in part as to Defendants Colbert and Lopez as discussed above. Plaintiff’s claim for defamation as to Defendants Carman, Fahey and McGrath will be permitted to remain. Plaintiff’s claim in Count III for reverse race discrimination is dismissed and the claims contained in claims IV, V, and VI are dismissed as they pertain to racial discrimination under § 1981, PHRA, and PFPO. Plaintiff’s claims for retaliation as found in Counts IV, V and VI are permitted to remain.
Further, Plaintiff’s claim for breach of contract as set forth in Count VII will be permitted to proceed, and his claim for false light as set forth in Count VIII will be dismissed as to Defendants Carman, Fahey, Liebell and McConnell and permitted to remain as to Defendants SJU, Colbert, Lopez, and McGrath. Plaintiff’s civil conspiracy claim found in Count IX will be dismissed as to all defendants and the tortious interference with contract claim found in Count X will be permitted to proceed as to Colbert, Carman, Lopez, Fahey and McGrath and dismissed as to Liebell. Lastly, Plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress contained in Count XI is dismissed in its entirety.
So much of the case goes forward, including at least in part and as to some defendants, respectively, defamation, retaliation, breach of contract, false light, and tortious interference.
Keep in mind this was a ruling on a motion to dismiss, where the factual allegations are presumed true for this purpose and the court is required to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party (Prof. Manco here). This was not a ruling on the merits. That will come after discovery and ultimately trial.
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