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Federal appeals court upholds dismissal of former EERC director's lawsuit

BISMARCK - A federal judge properly dismissed a lawsuit brought by the former director of the University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center, an appeals court said last week.Then-UND President Robert Kelley fired Gerald Gro...

Gerald Groenewold
Gerald Groenewold
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BISMARCK - A federal judge properly dismissed a lawsuit brought by the former director of the University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center, an appeals court said last week.

Then-UND President Robert Kelley fired Gerald Groenewold in 2014 after alleging the longtime director provided false information about the EERC to the university and "created an inappropriate and abusive work environment," among other acts, according to an opinion published by the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Tuesday, April 24.

Groenewold filed a $2.9 million wrongful termination lawsuit against Kelley and the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education in 2015. He claimed he was fired in retaliation for exercising his right to free speech and that his termination violated "substantive due process."

But in dismissing Groenewold's lawsuit in 2016, a federal judge said "no constitutional violation has occurred." The appeals court agreed.

David Thompson, Groenewold's attorney and the Democratic-NPL candidate for North Dakota attorney general this year, said "there's a basis to seek review" by the U.S. Supreme Court, but he wasn't sure they'd go that route.

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"He really got screwed over by President Kelley and UND and it's a shame that the Eighth Circuit has not seen fit to provide a remedy for him," he said.

UND spokesman Peter Johnson declined to comment.

Related Topics: UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA
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