Court Denies Professor Tracy’s Summary Judgment Motion, Dismisses Constitutional Challenges to Vague Policy Used as Pretext

In early 2016, Florida Atlantic University (“FAU”) terminated tenured Associate Professor James Tracy in retaliation for his widely publicized questioning of the Sandy Hook Elementary “massacre” on his personal blog.

After failing to dismiss his subsequent civil rights lawsuit, six counts, including five federal counts under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, including First Amendment Retaliation, Conspiracy to Interfere with Professor Tracy’s Civil Rights, and constitutional challenges to FAU’s “Conflict of Interest/Outside Activities” Policy, proceeded to discovery.

Following a lengthy discovery process, which necessitated multiple public records requests and motions to compel the FAU to produce email communications and other evidence of First Amendment retaliation and FAU’s unconstitutionally vague and selectively and arbitrarily enforced Policy, Professor Tracy moved for partial summary judgment:

Tracy Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
Tracy Statement of Material Facts

Having presented undisputable, overwhelming evidence of not only First Amendment retaliation, but that FAU’s “Conflict of Interest/Outside Activities” Policy was unconstitutional both facially and as-applied to Professor Tracy’s blogging, summary judgment should have been granted in Professor Tracy’s favor on multiple counts.

Instead, in a miscarriage of justice, the District Court denied Tracy’s motion for summary judgment, and then dismissed nearly all of Tracy’s First Amendment claims, except one single count against the Defendant University only for First Amendment Retaliation…

Summary Judgment Order

Afterward, Profossor Tracy moved for reconsideration of the summary judgment ruling:

Motion for Reconsideration

The Court denied the motion for reconsideration, and the case proceed to a jury trial on two limited questions. Dr. Tracy was not permitted to seek or prove damages, in any form, including punitive damages against the University officials who literally recorded their plans to beat the First Amendment, and also didn’t follow their own disciplinary procedures and standards in disciplining or terminating Professor Tracy in late 2015. After a largely censored and unfair trial, the jury returned a verdict completely against the manifest weight of the evidence.

As a result of the District Court’s refusal to make a required legal determination as to the constitutionality of Florida Atlantic University’s “Conflict of Interest/Outside Activities” Policy, the vague and confusing Policy remains unchallenged.

Stay tuned for the appeal.

Louis Leo IV

Trial Lawyer & Founder of Florida Civil Rights Coalition


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