Court dismisses former SRU professor’s lawsuit against students

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Editor’s note: The report and recommendation of this case is linked in the first sentence of this story. The Rocket chose to redact the private address for the plaintiff for this document. 

A former Slippery Rock University professor has asked a federal judge to dismiss their lawsuit against the professor’s former student.

Yili Tseng requested the dismissal, citing the court’s opinion that it did not have jurisdiction over the matter. The Notice of Dismissal of Complaint was signed by U.S. District Court Judge Arthur J. Schwab in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

According to the court’s Report and Recommendation on the case, Tseng did not meet the requirement of diversity in the defendants’ residency, as all named parties reside in Pennsylvania.

Tseng filed his lawsuit against Madison Harris, a SRU computer science major, July 27 alleging she and 15 other unnamed students of Tseng’s Challenges of Technology course made false statements and conspired to defame him, according to court records.

In November 2019, Harris along with the students submitted a 13-page document outlining what they saw as problems with the teaching methods and grading of course assignments. Around the same time the document was filed, Harris also filed a complaint of gender discrimination against Tseng regarding how he had graded one of her assignments.

Harris was asked for comment on the dismissal, but declined.

The discrimination complaint against Tseng was completed in May. A letter from the SRU’s Title IX Coordinator Holly McCoy stated the investigation found no violations of the university’s harassment and discrimination policy.

In March, Tseng was notified that his contract with the university would not be renewed. His complaint alleged those involved with making that decision were swayed by the statements made by Harris and the other students.

Tseng was seeking more than $600,000 in damages from Harris and the unnamed defendants.

The court’s dismissal of the case is without prejudice, allowing Tseng to refile the case in Pennsylvania court.

Tseng said that he has taken the steps to file his case with the Pennsylvania courts.

Joe is a senior communication major with a concentration in converged journalism. This is his first year with The Rocket as assistant news editor. Before joining The Rocket, Joe worked at Butler County Community College’s student newspaper along with a short-lived career as public affairs sergeant (along with many other assignments) with the United States Army. When not covering campus news, Joe spends his weekends with his fiancée and son in Slippery Rock.

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Joe Wells
Joe is a senior communication major with a concentration in converged journalism. This is his first year with The Rocket as assistant news editor. Before joining The Rocket, Joe worked at Butler County Community College’s student newspaper along with a short-lived career as public affairs sergeant (along with many other assignments) with the United States Army. When not covering campus news, Joe spends his weekends with his fiancée and son in Slippery Rock.

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