Nearly two years after professor Rudolph Alexander Jr. filed a lawsuit against Ohio State alleging it destroyed public records, a judge issued a motion partially dismissing the case against the university.
Alexander accused the university — particularly the College of Social Work and Vice President of Human Resources Larry Lewellen — of destroying the results of a survey taken by faculty and staff in the college. The lawsuit requests $1,000 in damages for each record destroyed, which Alexander estimates would amount to more than $3 million.
However, in a motion filed by Judge Daniel T. Hogan on Sept. 13, which was made public last week, the judge ruled that Alexander has no case against Lewellen. The motion also states that the university destroyed just one record.
The survey in question asked Alexander’s colleagues about the work environment in the College of Social Work. According to Alexander’s suit, the results would have gauged what his colleagues thought about his boss, former Dean William Meezan. Alexander accused Meezan of discriminating against him and giving him a smaller payraise because he is black.
Alexander, who said the judge’s opinion “differs with (his) beliefs regarding damages,” plans to fight the ruling.
“I look forward to explaining to a Franklin County jury that multiple records were destroyed by Ohio State and that Ohio State mutilated written comments by making illegal redactions,” Alexander said in an e-mail to The Lantern on Sept. 16.
Alexander said he plans to meet with a lawyer soon to discuss the judge’s latest ruling.
Last spring, Alexander also filed a motion to dismiss his previous attorney, Rayl Stepter. In an e-mail to The Lantern on May 25, Alexander wrote: “I decided that my lawyer and I did not have a meeting of the minds anymore and I relieved him.”
Though Hogan’s ruling partly favored OSU, the judge didn’t completely dismiss Alexander’s case. He set a trial date for Feb. 7, 2011, when Alexander will get a chance to present his case to a jury.
“The claims against The Ohio State College of Social Work remain for trial,” Hogan said in a written response to the latest hearing. “Genuine issues of material fact exist pertaining to the amount (Alexander) might recover.”
Although Hogan ruled that only one document was destroyed — a compilation of survey data — his ruling suggests that the destruction could have led to other documents being destroyed, such as the individual survey responses.
He pointed out that Alexander’s complaint “does appear to allege the destruction of earlier existing records in the form of surveys filled out by individual respondents.”
Still, Hogan wrote, those accused of destroying documents “have not satisfied their burden of pointing to evidence … as to whether such individual surveys ever existed, and if they existed, whether they were ever destroyed.”
Lewellen declined to comment.