Cornell Professor’s Lawsuit Against University Settled
Cornell University Sociology Professor Stephen L. Morgan’s lawsuit against the University on charges of defamation, false light invasion of privacy, and negligent infliction of emotional distress, was settled outside of court in March.
Morgan filed suit against the University in November 2009 for releasing his driver’s license picture on May 7, 2009 as the alleged suspect in the shooting of Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10. Instead of the image of the actual shooter, Stephen Morgan of Marblehead, Mass., the image of Professor Morgan was publicly released by the University. Professor Morgan alleged that the University had never officially retracted this release of the image or offered him a letter of apology.
On Jan. 5, Judge Julia Aurigemma of the Superior Court, Judicial District of Middlesex, denied both Professor Morgan and the University’s motions for summary judgment. In her statement, Aurigemma appeared to find Professor Morgan’s case more persuasive.
“Morgan has produced more than abundant evidence to create a material issue of fact that Wesleyan did not act in good faith in publishing Morgan’s picture,” Aurigemma wrote.
After both motions were denied, the issue was settled outside of court between the two parties. On March 23, Vice President for Finance and Administration John Meerts sent a letter of apology to Morgan on behalf of the University.
“Wesleyan believed at the time that circulating that particular photograph, first to the immediate campus community and then to our website, would help protect the safety and security of our students and campus community,” Miertz wrote. “We now understand that you were never a suspect in this crime...we further apologize for not removing the photograph from our website sooner than we did. We understand that the posting of your photograph resulted in a difficult period for you and your family and we apologize for that.”
All other details of this settlement remain confidential.