Case Western Reserve Law School Settles Professor Retaliation Suit

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on July 11, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You'd think that a safe haven from discrimination and harassment would be a law school of all places -- but we've seen throughout history that's simply not the case. The latest in law school hall of shame stories comes out of Case Western Reserve Law and its flirtatious (and to some creepy) former Dean Lawrence Mitchell.

Mitchell's alleged actions led to a situation in which the school, and another professor tried to do the right thing, and ended up in litigation. This week, the parties announced that they had come to a settlement agreement, reports The ABA Journal. Now, everyone can get back to teaching law.

The Allegations

Professor Ku, was a tenured professor at Case Western Reserve since 2003 and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, reports Cleveland magazine Scene. Mitchell had "a reputation that preceded him," where his previous behavior as a professor at George Washington University Law School, involved "at least one sexual relationship with a law student and other inappropriate or questionable conduct," reports The ABA Journal. As Dean at Case Western, Professor Ku alleges that at an August 2011 party, Mitchell gave a colleague an "unnerving and creepy" back rub, and partook of "sexual flirting."

The Lawsuit

Professor Ku reported then-Dean Mitchell's behavior to the university, who then allegedly retaliated against him for his report. According to his complaint, there was a "campaign of retaliation" in which Mitchell tried to discredit Professor Ku, didn't include him in matters related to his job, and constructively discharged him from his post as associate dean for academic affairs, reports The ABA Journal.

The Settlement

On Tuesday, the law firm representing Professor Ku announced that the parties had reached a settlement and released a joint statement. As part of the settlement, as of July 1, 2014, Professor Ku is the Director of the law school's Center for Cyberspace Law & Policy. The mediator, and former Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association President, Michael Ungar stated, "This has been a hard case, but everyone involved focused on finding a solution that would further the success and momentum of the law school." He added, "While the university and Professor Ku had significant differences regarding this matter, their sincere desire to act in the school's best interests prevailed."

And what of former-Dean Mitchell? He resigned as dean in March, but remains on the faculty. He's currently on sabbatical, and the school is currently searching for a new dean with Jessica Berg and Michael Sharf serving as interim co-deans, reports The Plain Dealer.

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard