Student Sues UM Over Strike-Related Discipline

I have no idea why the details are being reported by a columnist rather than the Miami Herald news section, but Ana Menendez’s opinion column yesterday has an account of Brian Lemmerman’s lawsuit against UM. The essence of the complaint appears to be a breach of contract claim predicated on the the University’s alleged failure to follow its own rules when disciplining him for his participation in strike-support activities.

According to the column, the other students subject to (secret) disciplinary proceedings over the summer have thrown in the towel, in part, I suspect, because most of their punishments were not as severe as the outrageous sanctions the University originally threatened.

I have not seen the complaint, but cases like this generally face two roadblocks: first, universities often write themselves a lot of discretion into their rules in part because they hate to tie their own hands, in part to avoid suits like this. The second problem is that it’s a contract case, not a tort case, so the possible damages are limited to the value of the contract. Mr. Lemmerman is claiming $15K, which I presume is based on some computation involving tuition, but I’d expect UM’s lawyers to press hard on the damages part of the claim.

Background on student discipline issue: Lessons and Faculty Sign Open Letter to Administration.

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