Jeremy Levitt cleared in 2nd Florida lawsuit

A Florida jury has ruled against a female law professor whose sex-discrimination lawsuit made allegations about former University of New Brunswick law dean Jeremy Levitt.

Jury throws out claim against university that colleague was denied pay hike, promotion because of gender

A Florida jury has ruled against a female law professor whose sex-discrimination lawsuit made allegations about former University of New Brunswick law dean Jeremy Levitt.

Jeremy Levitt has been cleared in a second lawsuit in Florida. (CBC)
Last week, the jury said Jennifer Smith had not been a victim of discrimination at Florida A&M University, the school where Levitt used to teach and to which he is returning after his resignation from UNB.

It marks the second case in which allegations against Florida A&M have been rejected in U.S. federal court.

The jury ruled Smith, a former law school colleague of Levitt, was not denied pay increases and promotions because of her gender.

Smith's lawsuit was against Florida A&M, not against Levitt, although her court filings made allegations about Levitt's actions. He was not a witness and did not testify in either case.

But a pre-trial order by the judge on July 3 threw out most parts of Smith's case that touched on Levitt, and put strict conditions on what kind of evidence she could introduce on the others — a burden she could not meet.

Florida A&M had argued that Smith's allegations about Levitt's role in her treatment were baseless or irrelevant to her claim of discrimination.

Prof. Jennifer Smith's lawsuit was against Florida A&M University. (Florida A&M College of Law)
"No substantiation was forthcoming" for Smith's claim that Levitt changed reviews of her scholarship in her promotion file, Florida A&M argued in an earlier court filing. "In fact," the university added, university officials testified "that it would not be allowed."

The jury's decision in favour of Florida A&M led the judge to dismiss Smith's claim "with prejudice," according to the court file. That means the ruling is final and the issues can't be raised again in a subsequent suit.

The outcome of the case marks the second time Levitt has been vindicated in the Florida courts and means there are now no outstanding allegations involving him.

Earlier this year, a summary judgment was handed down in another lawsuit against Florida A&M by another former law school colleague of Levitt, Barbara Bernier.

In that case, Bernier argued she was subject to harassment and discrimination, including "derogatory comments" by Levitt.

But those claims were thrown out, in part because Bernier had already seen her allegations dismissed as "without substance" by an internal university investigation.

As in Smith's case, Levitt was not named as a defendant in the Bernier lawsuit.

Levitt took over as the dean of law at UNB last year, but went on leave after faculty members there filed grievances through their union.

Following a review by an outside investigator, UNB announced that Levitt voluntarily resigned as dean, effective at the end of this month.

UNB said when it announced his resignation that he would return to Florida A&M.


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