Appeals Court Tosses Suit Claiming Law Professor Blacklisted Grad in Job Search
Posted Aug 29, 2012 7:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
A California appeals court has affirmed dismissal of a lawsuit that claimed a Stanford law professor had blacklisted a grad who sought employment at law firms in the San Francisco area.
The law school had asserted that the plaintiff, Usha Viswanathan, was "proceeding on nothing more than suspicion, speculation and imagination," the appeals court said. A judge had dismissed the case on the ground that Viswanathan had supplied insufficient evidence. In an unpublished opinion (PDF) released Aug. 24, the Sixth District Court of Appeals agreed the 1994 law grad could not prove her claims of defamation and retaliation. The National Law Journal has a report.
Viswanathan has been involved in previous litigation involving the school and law professor Robert Weisberg, including an unsuccessful request for a temporary restraining order against him, the opinion says.
Viswanathan’s suit said she claimed to be interviewing with a lawyer in 2009 to see if the law school would send negative information about her when she requested a transcript. According to the complaint, the lawyer received a voice mail saying, "Hello. We are aware that you interviewed Ms. Vishwanathan for a position with your firm. As concerned citizens of the Stanford community we feel that you ought to know that she is a dangerous personality. She has caused a lot of trouble for professors and companies in the past. She even stalked a Stanford [p]rofessor as well. We strongly urge you to reconsider any decision to hire her. Thank you."
Weisberg submitted a declaration saying he was unaware of the voice mail until he received the complaint. “Clearly his declaration supplied admissible evidence establishing not only that he knew nothing about any of the acts she attributed to him,” the opinion said, “but also that he had never had any contact with plaintiff after her graduation except when she unsuccessfully sought a TRO against him in 2006. Plaintiff offered no evidence raising even a marginally triable issue of fact with respect to Weisberg's involvement.” Stanford also showed it had no connection to the voice mail, the opinion said.
Viswanathan told the NLJ that she presented strong circumstantial evidence that the court ignored, and she planned to seek a rehearing.