Readers of this blog will recall the story of former university professor James Tracy, who taught and eschews conspiracy theories and was fired for breach of a Florida Atlantic University’s “Conflict of Interest / Outside Activities” policy which required professors to advise FAU of their outside activities. He filed a massive 49-page, 10-count, 200-paragraph Complaint against 20+ defendants alleging various federal and state claims.
In April, we previously discussed (and linked to) the Complaint, Professor Tracy’s ideology and history, and some of the news coverage. See here.
It’s been two months, so we decided to check in…
A quick Google and Google News search reveals no coverage since the lawsuit was filed (except this article).
James Tracy, who is raising money and support on his personal website, appears to have been silent about his case since May (see here).
However PACER reveals signs of life on the docket.
FAU filed a Motion to Dismiss which appears to intentionally avoid repeating Tracy’s allegations and, instead, focused on claimed deficiencies in the Complaint.
Hit this link for the Motion to Dismiss but here is a quick overview:
- Sovereign Immunity: the state, officials, and officials in their personal capacity have different degrees of immunity under the Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution.
- Failure to State a Claim: FAU asserts that the school and its officials are not subject to plaintiff’s 1983 claim; they further aver that there is “not a single fact [pled in the Complaint] relating to any single individual’s involvement…” As to the conspiracy claim, Tracy allegedly failed to meet the pleading requirement to “show the parties ‘reached an understanding’ to deny Plaintiff his rights.” As to the breach of contract, FAU contends that Tracy failed to point to the relevant contract provisions and that the individual defendants were not parties to that contract.
- Shotgun Pleading: This procedural argument states that Plaintiff has been improperly vague, conclusory, and included immaterial facts; the claims are not separated into different counts; and that the Complaint piles multiple defendants into different counts without breaking out what each person allegedly did wrong.
Plaintiff Tracy also sued his Union (and related defendants) who fired back with a short Motion to Dismiss and Memo in Support, here, which states:
- Plaintiffs’ claims against the Union Defendants must be brought under the Florida Public Employees Relations Act (PERA) which has exclusive jurisdiction;
- The Union Defendants are not liable under 1983 or 1985 claims since they are not state actors
- The allegations are too vague.
We will continue to follow the pleadings as this case progresses.
NB: as this is a “conspiracy” case, careful
if not suspicious readers will note that I previously spoke at an FAU class earlier this Spring. That class and my coverage of this suit are unrelated. I was invited by the local bar association and not the school itself. I am not an employee nor prospective employee of FAU and was not paid for speaking at that class (which was before this suit existed and involved an unrelated topic).
Image credit: NBC Miami