Friday, May 11, 2007

Dowd Settlement

Big news on another front, the following statement has just been issued:

This lawsuit has been settled through mediation to the mutual satisfaction of Kyle Dowd and his family and Duke University, and without any admission by any party of legal liability. The mediated settlement terms are, of course, confidential.

As reflected on Kyle’s transcript, he has received from Duke University a “P” in the Politics and Literature course he took in his senior year.

To review: the Dowds’ suit alleged grade retaliation, and had asked that Kyle’s grade in a class taught by Kim Curtis be changed to a “P” (pass). In this respect, then, the settlement is one-sided.

Two possible explanations for why did Duke settled:

  1. The University recognized that Curtis’ behavior was wrong.
  2. The University recognized that it could not win a lawsuit, given the strong evidence of retaliation against Curtis, who put in writing her belief that two of her students were at the least accomplices to rape.

Either way, Duke is to be commended for settling the case, thereby allowing for a just resolution to prevail.

56 comments:

bill anderson said...

Does Kim Curtis remain on the faculty? Duke did no "wrongdoing"? Once again, we see that the bad guys win in the end.

Anonymous said...

No Brainer, Duke has to settle without litigation, there was far too much to lose in the discovery process of a lawsuit. My bet is that we have not heard the whole story of mistreatment of Lacrosse players in class by professors, and, I suspect, there are emails between professors that are incriminatory. Duke had no choice but to settle, I am sure in line with the terms of the lawsuit. They are smart to keep it out of the public eye, Duke has already had enough bad press on the case.

BDay MD

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, a "just resolution" of this case would require a public admission of wrongdoing by Duke and a public apology. I'm disappointed the Dowds let Duke off the hook, but do hope they at least got their 30 pieces of silver.

Anonymous said...

Does the other lax player in that class, who also received a low grade from Dowd, get to piggyback on this mediated resolution.

Anonymous said...

In addition to the 2 reason for the settlement:
3. Duke did not want the dirty little details made public.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that Duke has settled, but once again the university has been embarrassed by its faculty. There is no way that you can say no harm, no foul here, so I certainly hope there will be consequences for Kim Curtis. Although I know that she is a spousal hire, since her husband is a permanent associate professor, I can’t believe that Duke considers either one to be important.

Duke should remember Voltaire's comment that, "Sometimes the British shoot an admiral to encourage the others." Anchors away, Kimmy!

Anonymous said...

Duke should award Reade an honorary degree.

Anonymous said...

I will assume, since the details are not made public, that monetary compensation was given as well as a strong and sincere apology for Dowd and his family by Curtis. They may have even gotten and apology from brodhead, the englsih teacher. Hopefully they got it in writing.

emmy said...

"Does Kim Curtis remain on the faculty? Duke did no "wrongdoing"? Once again, we see that the bad guys win in the end."

Yep...agree totally...

Anonymous said...

Who is Kim Curtis' husband?

Harry Hatwater said...

re: "Duke should award Reade an honorary degree."

I believe Duke has been forced out of the "honorary degree" business.

In lieu of such honors, many and substantial settlements wrapped in mint-green ribbons.

Jim said...

The principals in the lawsuit were Kyle Dowd and his family v. Duke University AND Kim Curtis.

Today's "mutual satisfaction" announcement mentions only the Dowds and Duke.

There's one name missing.

One might, therefore, conclude the Dowd Family will be enjoying a pound of Curtis flesh at their Memorial Day picnic.

Anonymous said...

Only an honorable institution may grant such degrees.

Anonymous said...

If I were Kyle Dowd,
I would insist upon a
public apology from Kim
Curtis, followed by a public
hanging.

No, really!

Either that, or I'd force
Ms. Dowd to watch tapes
of the UBUNTU Dancers,
and make her listen to
Farred 24-7. Ooops.
My bad: she's already
been indoctrinated with
Farred's evil nonsense.

Mac

Anonymous said...

Crap! I meant to say "Ms. Curtis!"
Not Dowd! How do you erase
these things?

Mac

Harry Hatwater said...

re: "How do you erase
these things [posts]?"

Post using your Google identity/account, which gives you the option to remove your own posts at any time.

Anonymous said...

This was all about liability...Duke is covering up as per their lawyer's instructions without a doubt. The poor student got vindication (grade), as well as a nice chunk of change is my guess.

I am so humiliated to be a Duke Grad.

E Ski

Gary Packwood said...

I am very pleased that Duke did the right thing and that Kyle can put this behind him and know that he helped himself and others.

There are so few of these professors, staff members and students at Duke who have conspired to cause so much harm.

Lets hope the BOT recognizes that they need to return Duke towards the Duke that all of us appreciate and honor.

jamil hussein said...

Well, now at least everybody knows that Duke did commit grade retaliation. What we do not know, is the exact amount of money Duke will have to pay. I hope that we will soon learn about the future of Curtis, but I'm afraid that in this universe gang88 cannot be punished in any way. There must be another parallel universe somewhere, where professional fraudsters and racists are punished, but it certainly is not this universe.

I suspect Kim Curtis will be named head of department or Duke President.

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt about or respect for what Kim Curtis did in this matter. Still, I could not disagree more with your suggestion that there are only two possible explanations for Duke's settlement. Pragmatism is the primary reason for almost every settlement. If Duke had thought Curtis in the right (which I do not believe), they still would have made this settlement. Any settlement which ends this litigation with no more expendature of legal fees and with no admission of liability is an acceptable outcome for Duke. From Duke's perspective, this was a case in which a win at trial would still have been a net loss.

mac said...

9:12

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

JLS says...,

Exactly BDay MD, discovery in the Curtis affair would have been a disaster for Duke.

Anonymous said...

Duke had better begin to engage in meaningful risk management as it moves forward. Identification of likely future risks and avoidance of those risks needs to be a top topic for the BOT.

Risk avoidance has got to mean moving aside or replacing professors that have proven themselves to be potential sociopaths who cannot be trusted to interact safely with students.

My kid is Duke graduate student and I am watching and listening with the type of interest that only a concerned parent of a student can generate.

End the nonsense, fix the problem and restore the integrity of the school.

Michael said...

Hopefully they apologized to Dowd. A lot of people need to apologize....

Anonymous said...

So would any $$ penalty have been involved in the conclusion of this suit, or..what can we assume?

Anonymous said...

Maybe that was enough for the Dowds, regarding Curtis, and now they're looking to become part of the process of frying the bigger fish with the rest of the lax families.

Anonymous said...

Anyone want to venture a guess that someone representing the LAX players is negotiating with Duke about a settlement, knowing Duke would not want a public civil action... ???

I wonder ?? Seems to me, if there is discovery embarrasing to Duke, they will want to settle quietly.

BDay MD

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the precise cuase of action for this case? I would guess it was breach of contract?

I am happy to her about the settlement. I hope more will be forthcoming.

Observer

Anonymous said...

JLS says...,

DBay MD, There have been reports that the Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann families have asked Duke to play their legal fees for this case and that Duke did not reject it out of hand.

Anonymous said...

It is no coincidence that Duke released the settlement statement in the shadow of the Baker report, which deservedly will get much more attention. I wonder how long Duke has been sitting on this statement? I am not surprised they want as little publicity as possible. This is deeply embarrassing to the school. Not only do they have an instructor that dealt with students in bad faith, but they have admitted that their belated remedy last summer was altogether insufficient.

Anonymous said...

JLS says....

Oberserver you can read it for yourself at this link:

PDF of the Dowd Lawsuit

Causes of action:

1. Breach of Contract

2. Unjust enrichment

3. Fraud

4. Negligent Misrepresentation

5&6. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

7. Negligence

And they asked for punitive damages.

Scanning back over the filing, Duke has settled, WHAT ABOUT CURTIS????

bill anderson said...

JLS says...,

DBay MD, There have been reports that the Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann families have asked Duke to play their legal fees for this case and that Duke did not reject it out of hand.

May 11, 2007 11:39:00 PM


I am hearing similar things. But look for lawsuits against Durham and Lord knows who else.

Anonymous said...

Reade and Colin should ask Duke for tuition for where ever they choose to go for the next two years as well as their legal fees. They had athletic scholarships for Duke but likely won't get them where ever they choose to go next (As has been pointed out, Brown is interested in Reade and he can play lacrosse for them; but they don't offer scholarships for lacrosse.) ... and they shouldn't, in any way, be forced to return to Duke. Duke will very likely pay to avoid a lawsuit.

WestToast said...

The suit now settled exposed Duke in several ways: (a) the testimony given by high officials would have bound Duke in other litigation or been near impossible to overcome; (b), the testimony would have been public; (c), the testimony would have been on the record and sworn now--preventing the nuancing of testimony to be given over time which I bet Duke desparately wants the opportunity to do; (d)it could have resulted in findings that might be collateral estoppel--binding on Duke--in other bigger cases.

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

I'm glad Dowd won - but worried about the settlement terms being kept confidential.

As I understand it, this means Reade, Dave and Collin can't cite Curtis' misconduct in their own lawsuit against the university. Their lawsuit's strength depends on establishing a pattern of abuse by Duke professors - a pattern which Curtis proves. However, if her abuse is sealed in a confidential agreement, does that mean it cannot be cited in a different lawsuit?

Please tell me I'm wrong.

luke said...

to Carolyn: A confidentiality agreement between private parties is not a recognized basis for refusing to answer a question posed at trial -- stated another way, the mere fact you've agreed to keep something confidential amongst yourself does not give you a privilege to refuse to answer a question while on the witness stand. Most confidentiality agreements recognize this, and commonly state they are inapplicable in the face of judicial process or similar language. Even if they don't say this, that still is the case. Whether a court would hold that the inquiry is relevant is a separate issue.

Anonymous said...

This is a settlement?
The Dowd's got what they asked for.
That's a surrender.
The admin at Duke must have investigated Curtis' actions. I'm sure they'll just cover that up and do nothing.
Apparently the group of 88 are immune from any disciplinary action.

Anonymous said...

This is how it will happen with all the lawsuits. As a former university administrator, I have first hand witnessed this approach.

Anonymous said...

There have been reports that the Evans, Finnerty and Seligmann families have asked Duke to play their legal fees for this case and that Duke did not reject it out of hand.

May 11, 2007 11:39:00 PM


In KC's D-I-W post on 12/25 last year, there is this curious statement:

"In an article last week, Brodhead expressed his belief that it will take two to five years for Duke to recover from this affair."

With that assessment of the impact by Brodhead, perhaps he and the BOT believe a settlement would be well worth it if it speeds the recovery process by a couple of years. Duke should be content to settle quickly and let the spotlight that is upon Nifong and the DPD to remain there. Surely the BOT believes Duke's reputation is worth $3 million.

mac said...

9:50 am,

Another question is: whose
reputation is more likely to be
damaged? Duke's, or the boys'?

The boys have already had theirs
torn to shreds (as evidenced by
the continued notion that they
did "something.")

Duke doesn't want to end up
with something that could be
far more costly to the University's
reputation. You're right: an
early settlement is in everyone's
best interests - except perhaps
in the interests of Justice.

Remember: settlement means
"no disclosure."

Let's hope any settlement
doesn't preclude action against
individual Instructors and
Professors.

Anonymous said...

Thank you JLS,

I did go back and read the complaint, and those causes of action form an excellent basis for a lawsuit against Duke on behalf of the defendants in the hoax. Although the details of Finnerty, Seligmann, Evans' complaint will differ from the Dowd's (unless there was grade retaliation of which we were unaware) the causes of action listed in the Dowd complaint (based in contracts, equity, and tort) work just fine for me. I believe we could present a persuasive case that Duke breached its contract with these LAX defendants.

What say you Anon who was casting about for a precise cause of action?? Why doesn't this Dowd complaint work as a blueprint for everone else?

Observer

Anonymous said...

Make that "everyone."

Ob

Anonymous said...

I am glad Dowd won. Any chance Bob Steele wrote the check on his account?

Anonymous said...

Carolyn says:

Thank you, Luke, who answered my question about whether Dowd's confidentiality agreement would prevent Reade, Dave and Collin from citing Curtis' abuse in their own lawsuits:

"Most confidentiality agreements...are inapplicable in the face of judicial process or similar language...Whether a court would hold that the inquiry is relevant is a separate issue."

Well, Luke - that obviously rules out any Durham court - at least one with Judge Hudson perched on the bench.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if Dowd insisted that the changed grade be mention in the statement. Since it would appear on his transcript, there would be no way to keep it confidential by either side.

I'm also wondering if the settlement included Kim Curtis as well, but that she was kept out of the announcement intentionally. It would make no sense for an image-conscious Duke U to settle and keep this out of court only to have Curtis dragged through the process by the plantiff, thus exposing Duke to the ugliness of discovery they have paid dearly to avoid. Curtis may have gone along with the deal because Duke would likely foot the bill for her. Whether she remains on the Duke faculty is another question. At some point visiting lecturers have to 'unvisit'.

Jeff said...

Maybe a lawyer can help us again.

Obviously, the terms of any settlement between the Dowds and Curtis personally can be made confidential, but in my experience such settlements always require dismissing the case with prejudice. I presume the dismissal with prejudice is public record so it would be possible for someone to determine whether Curtis was or was not included in the settlement. Is that presumption correct?

Second, someone said that Duke would be subject to discovery in any suit against Curtis. I have not been too involved in third-party discovery, but in the few instances when I was, I recollect it was possible to limit it rather stringently. Furthermore, Duke could have limited the Dowd's scope of discovery against Duke in litigation with third parties as part of the settlement agreement with Duke, no?

JeffM

mac said...

One of the worst things a
teacher or professor could
be accused of is grade retaliation:
it's worse than
sexual harrassment, making
your students read Margaret
Atwood (that's a joke, folks)
or just being a bad teacher.

It implies that the teacher
would misuse his/her profession
for personal spite. That's
low.

IMO, an acknowledgement that
both Duke and Dowd are satisfied
with the settlement - (minus
the implied "satisfaction"
of Kim Curtis) - is a damning
acknowledgement.

Anonymous said...

"It implies that the teacher
would misuse his/her profession
for personal spite. That's
low."

I know you are referring to grade retaliation here, but I think this applies almost as well to the Gang of 88 ad and the other numerous opportunities taken by the faculty to insult, demean, and slander the LAX defendants by Houston Baker, Wahneema Lubiano, Kim Curtis, etc. I know the sense here on-line is that grade retaliation is the worst academic sin...but I am not really sure why it is worse than Houston Baker's letter, for example, or some of the classroom comments. Arguably, I suppose, the grades are less a matter of opinion, but in the whole scheme of things, the damage caused by the slanderous comments, published to the world, probably cause even deeper, more lasting damage.

Observer

Anonymous said...

Kim Curtis is a flat out friggin embarrassment. If she finds a job as a teacher anywhere, her employer should be ashamed.

Dukex4 said...

Remember that Duke just recently changed its grading policy to allow for a professor's grade to be overruled. Evidently, prior to this very recent change, there was no recourse if the professor refused to make a change. When that new policy was announced, I felt it had to be related to this case, and as a mother of a current Duke student, I am relieved that in the case of a "rogue" instructor, there is an avenue of appeal.

That said, it is outrageous that Kim Curtis is still employed at Duke. She is listed in the Fall 2007 Course Schedule as teaching the following:

POLSCI 189 - INTERNSHIP
Open to students engaging in practical or governmental work experience during the summer or a regular semester. A faculty member in the department will supervise a program of study related to the work experience, including a substantive paper on a politics-related topic, containing significant analysis and interpretation. Consent of director of undergraduate studies required. Instructor: Staff
15
IND
0/10
TBA
Curtis,Kim F
POLSCI 191 - SOPH/JUNIOR INDEPENDENT STUDY
Individual non-research directed study in a field of special interest, under the supervision of a faculty member, on a topic previously approved by the supervising faculty member and the Director of Undergraduate Studies, resulting in an academic product. Instructor: Staff
15
IND
0/10
TBA
Curtis,Kim F
POLSCI 192 - SOPH/JUNIOR RESEARCH IND STUDY
Individual research under the supervision of a faculty member, the central goal of which is a substantive research paper or report containing significant analysis and interpretation of a previously approved topic. Consent of director of undergraduate studies and supervising instructor required. Instructor: Staff
15
IND
0/10
TBA
Curtis,Kim F
POLSCI 193 - SENIOR INDEPENDENT STUDY
Individual non-research directed study in a field of special interest, under the supervision of a faculty member, on a topic previously approved by the supervising faculty member and the Director of Undergraduate Studies, resulting in an academic product. Instructor: Staff
15
IND
0/10
TBA
Curtis,Kim F
POLSCI 194 - SENIOR RESEARCH IND STUDY
Individual research under the supervision of a faculty member, the central goal of which is a substantive research paper or report containing significant analysis and interpretation of a previously approved topic. Consent of director of undergraduate studies and supervising instructor required. Instructor: Staff
15
IND
0/10
TBA
Curtis,Kim F
POLSCI 308 - INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH
Students will conduct research designed to evaluate hypotheses of their choice. Reports on the research must be presented in appropriate professional style. Instructor: Staff
15
IND
0/10
TBA
Curtis,Kim F
POLSCI 399 - SPECIAL READINGS
Instructor: Staff
15

While these all appear to be a one-on -one situation, (meaning at least she is not let loose on unsuspecting students in a general class), I am angry she is still employed. BTW -- you can search any professor, course, major, etc at the following:
http://www.siss.duke.edu/schedule/search?strm=1220

mac said...

Observer 8:52

You are right that slander
and the other things are worse
than grade retaliation, especially
in the "real world."
However, slander is not something
that's normally part of the
teaching profession. That is,
with the exception of the 88s et
al, who might think slander is a
mighty-fine tool for a "Collich
Perfesser" to have!

Grading is an integral part of
teaching, and using grades to
settle scores is - IMO - a worse
condemnation of a TEACHER,
because it is a misuse of
teacher's essential/neccessary
effort - (although outcome-based
education types believe
that grades don't represent actual
achievement!)

For human beings in general?
I agree with you, wholeheartedly.


The slander and other things
you adroitly addressed are
probably evidence of personality
disorders and/or illnesses of the
brain on display.

mac said...

Their disorders.

mac said...

DukeX4,

My comments thus far are a
rough draft for the research
I'll be required to perform
for Ms. Curtis' class.

Think I'll pass?

mac said...

DukeX4

I think I'll enroll in
POLSCI 189 - INTERNSHIP

I plan to study the inept,
corrupt, incoherent attempts
at local government leadership
during the past 12 months +

How could Curtis possibly
teach this class? What if a
student were to actually do
their research on this topic?

Dukex4 said...

mac

you would flunk for sure! The good news is that I think the 0/10 listed after each course means no one signed up, and the upper classmen have already registered for Fall. Based on the "course" descriptions, no freshmen would be eligible, so hopefully this means she won't be teaching. The fact they renewed her contract remains a point of anger for me...

mac said...

This is one good time to know
that I'd fail at something!

As far as your anger goes at
Kim Curtis' continued employment,
all I can do is to quote Blade,
in Trinity, who said:

"Use it! USE IT!"

(Well, isn't it fair to compare
a comic-book character to the
comic-book antics of a
College Instructor?)