A jury trial to consider allegations concerning the University’s termination of coastal researcher Ivor van Heerden for speaking out against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin Feb. 19 before U.S. District Judge James Brady.
The official lawsuit van Heerden is filing against the University is for wrongful termination from his non-tenure-track position in 2009, alleging that University officials fired him after he led a team that conducted a comprehensive investigation into the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
“Dr. Van Heerden is very much looking forward to vindicating his name and reputation,” said Jill Craft, van Heerden’s attorney. “We’re obviously very positive, and it’s time for him to have his day in court.”
The former deputy director of the LSU Hurricane Center claims the University terminated him after he blamed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ work on the New Orleans levees for flooding in 80 percent of the city following the storm.
Van Heerden asserted that administrators feared his claims against the corps damaged the University’s odds of receiving federal contracts and grants.
The American Association of University Professors came to van Heerden’s defense in 2011, issuing a report stating that van Heerden’s academic freedom had been violated; however, the association’s report carries no penalty.