Buffalo News, Federal Case That Roiled UB Law School Now Over:
An eight-year legal battle that helped expose deep strife within the University at Buffalo Law School is finally over.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a federal district court decision in favor of Makau W. Mutua, the law school's former dean [Malkan v. Mutua, Nos. 17-38, 17-228 (2d Cir. Oct. 30, 2017)]. The ruling marks the end of the legal process for a former professor, Jeffrey Malkan, who sued Mutua and the university claiming he was wrongfully terminated. ...
Mutua resigned as dean in 2014 amid criticism of his management and remains on the UB Law School faculty. He described the court's decision as a "total, unequivocal vindication. I had no doubt that Jeff Malkan’s claims against me and UB were malicious, unfounded and frivolous. He lost in every single forum where he sued — PERB, state courts, U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, and now finally in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit," Mutua said in an email to The News.
Malkan, 63, had taught legal research and writing since 2000 at UB. He claimed Mutua wrongfully terminated him in 2008 and then lied twice under oath about it.
The case laid bare a rift at the law school between several highly regarded senior faculty members and Mutua, a world renowned human rights activist. The turmoil occurred as the school was suffering through steep enrollment declines. Faculty produced a scathing evaluation of Mutua's leadership and nearly took a vote of no-confidence in him. In addition, nine senior law professors went on record in court papers supporting Malkan's account of a tenure and promotion vote that was the crux of the professor's lawsuit. ...
In an email this week, Mutua suggested that race played a factor in the allegations against him. Mutua was born in Kenya and is black. He blamed a "small cabal of racist law faculty who had trouble accepting that a competent, reform-minded and independent black man was running the Law School" for taking up what he termed Malkan's "groundless cause." ...
Malkan said he spent $130,000 pressing his case in court. He also said the university blackballed him from finding employment at other schools by refusing to let potential employers know that he had left UB in good standing. During the lengthy legal battle, Malkan frequently railed against Mutua and the university in emails to his former colleagues at the Law School. His references to mass shooting in three emails in 2015 prompted university officials to ban Malkan from campus – a move some professors considered outrageous and overreactive.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- Former SUNY-Buffalo Law Prof Sues Dean for Wrongful Termination (Apr. 22, 2012)
- Eight Senior SUNY-Buffalo Law Profs Accept Buyouts (Mar. 19, 2014)
- SUNY-Buffalo Law School Dean Resigns Amidst Perjury Allegations in Lawsuit by Former Professor (Sept. 23, 2014)
- Deep Rift Exposed as SUNY-Buffalo Dean Resigns; Faculty Foes Allege Perjury, Mismanagement of Law School (Sept. 29, 2014)
- Turmoil Continues At SUNY-Buffalo Law School (July 20, 2015)
- SUNY-Buffalo Law School Bars Fired Professor From Campus (Oct. 20, 2015)
- Federal Magistrate Recommends Dismissal Of Former SUNY-Buffalo Law Prof's Wrongful Termination Suit Against Former Dean (Dec. 7, 2015)
- SUNY-Buffalo Law School Reduces Full-Time Faculty By 50% Through Retirement Incentives (Jan. 28, 2016)
- SUNY-Buffalo Law School, After Reducing Faculty By 50% Through Buyouts, Pays Former Dean $300k While He Works For World Bank (Mar. 10, 2016)
- SUNY-Buffalo Law School Dean Finalist Charged With Embezzling $7 Million (Mar. 26, 2017)