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UNL College of Law and Ex-Student Settle Lawsuit

By: Jeffrey Lapin

University of Nebraska College of LawA former University of Nebraska College of Law student has settled his discrimination lawsuit against the school. The lawsuit, filed in March of 2013, alleged that the man had been wrongfully dismissed from the law school. The school denied any wrongful action on its part and claimed that the man had been properly dismissed for allegedly plagiarizing a paper and other violations of the school’s honor code. The settlement is mostly confidential although some details are known.

DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT AND COUNTERCLAIM

Layth Mohammad Al-Turk filed his lawsuit on March 5, 2013, against the law school and other defendants, for his dismissal alleging he was discriminated against based on Arabic heritage and Muslim beliefs. Al-Turk also alleged that his constitutional rights of due process were violated. The defendants were: University of Nebraska, Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, University of Nebraska College of Law, and some members of the law school involved in Al-Turk’s dismissal. The case is: Al-Turk v. University of Nebraska et. al., Case No. 8:13CV74 filed in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska.

In his Complaint, Al-Turk’s alleged he was illegally dismissed from the law school over allegations that he plagiarized a rough draft of a paper, and when confronted about it, lied about the plagiarism. He claims that the punishment he received, dismissal from the law school, was harsher than that given to Caucasian students caught doing similar actions:

In those instances during the past five years where the College of Law and its honor code prosecutors have negotiated settlements of honor code violations with students where the sanctions imposed were less than dismissal or withdrawal, said the lawsuit alleged the students were comprised largely of Caucasian students who were not Muslim.

The College of Law and other defendants denied any wrongdoing. The defendants maintained that Al-Turk had plagiarized a paper, and, when initially confronted about it, lied about plagiarizing it. Both of these items would constitute violation of the law school’s honor code. The defendants further alleged that there was sufficient evidence to dismiss Al-Turk from the law school and that he had not been discriminated against based on race or any other factor. In addition, the University filed a counterclaim for unpaid tuition.

Here are some of the major occurrences in the case before it was settled:

  • March 12, 2013: Senior United States District Judge Richard Kopf rejected Mr. Al-Turk’s request for a temporary restraining order, which would have permitted him to return to classes pending the results of his lawsuit.
  • April 5, 2013: Magistrate Judge Cheryl R. Zwart rejected Mr. Al-Turk’s motion that the Magistrate recuse herself from the case based on her being an adjunct faculty member for the College of Law but did grant his motion to have the trial transferred from Omaha to Lincoln.

SETTLEMENT

Handshake signifying a settlementThe parties to this case reached a settlement, which is mostly confidential. What is known about the settlement is the following:

  • Neither Al-Turk or any of the defendants admit any wrongdoing;
  • The University will dismiss its claim for $3,018 in tuition for the spring 2013 semester;
  • The University retained the right to inform other academic institutions and state bar associations that Al-Turk was dismissed because of honor code violations, however, it cannot say anything more about the dismissal without his written consent;
  • Al-Turk cannot reapply to attend the University of Nebraska College of Law; and
  • Each party agreed to pay their own legal fees.

On April 26, 2013, Senior United States District Judge Lyle E. Strom dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice based on the parties’ stipulation that they had settled the case.

SOURCES

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Jeffrey Lapin

Lawyer, Founder and Owner at Lapin Law Offices
I am a trial lawyer and the Founder and Owner of Lapin Law Offices. I represent injured, abused and disabled clients with caring, passion and dedication in Lincoln and throughout Nebraska.

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