A Washington federal district judge today denied (PDF) a preliminary injunction request by a former professor at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law who sued the school after she was denied tenure and fired.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon didn't rule on the merits of Stephanie Brown's lawsuit, but found that she had waited too long to file her complaint to argue now that she would suffer immediate and irreparable harm without a court order.
Brown worked at the law school for 25 years as an administrator and law professor, according to her complaint. In 2009, she applied for tenure and promotion. The law school's Faculty Evaluation and Retention Committee voted in favor of her application and it was endorsed by law school Dean Katherine Broderick, but the application was ultimately denied in 2011.
In May of this year, Brown learned that she would be fired at the end of the academic year. She sued the school that month in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She filed a motion for a preliminary injunction at the same time in the hopes of putting her termination on hold.
Leon found that if Brown was worried that the tenure denial would hurt her professional reputation or future career options, she shouldn't have waited 11 months to file after learning in June 2011 that her application was denied. Even if she didn't consider that decision, which was made by an academic official, to be the final word, she still waited nearly seven months after university President Allen Sessoms finalized the denial.
The judge found that Brown also failed to present any concrete evidence that she would suffer irreparable harm to her reputation or career. Finally, Leon found that potential financial losses weren't enough to meet the high bar for a preliminary injunction, since those could be recovered if Brown won the case.
Brown's lawyer, Washington solo practitioner Donald Temple, could not immediately be reached for comment. A university spokesman also could not be reached. The university is being represented by Yoora Pak of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker of McLean, Va., who wasn't available.