A surgical resident who filed a civil lawsuit against St. Louis University, claiming she was discriminated against because of her work history as a registered nurse, is now facing a new legal tangle initiated by the school.
St. Louis University opened litigation against Mandy Rice — along with her husband, Michael Rice — claiming that a website created to publicize the original lawsuit is impeding on the learning institution’s intellectual property rights.
The web presence is officially for an organization called the St. Louis University Compliance Project (SLUCP). The university’s attorneys allege the incorporation of the school’s name and familiar acronym is “an apparent attempt to improperly divert the university’s supporters to the criticism and commentary contained on the website.”
The letter acknowledges that the attorneys aren’t able to identify the official owner of the website, but they surmise it is Rice and her husband because of the prominence of her case in the organization’s communications.
Rice’s suit claims that she was repeatedly told her history as a nurse made her “too nice” to be a surgeon. Rice also claimed that this biased opinion of her influenced the school’s decision to hold her back from her fifth year of residency. She is hoping to win $25,000 for court costs and wants to be advanced to the next year of training.
For its suit, St. Louis University is asking for $100,000 in damages along with legal fees, according to a news report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
On the SLUCP’s Facebook page, the group posted an image of the letter they received from the school’s law firm.
“Under the misrepresentation of concern for intellectual property, St. Louis University is attempting to intimidate, bully and silence those that would bring its dysfunctions to light,” the SLUCP wrote in an accompanying message.
They later posted a message indicating traffic to the website was “up almost 1000 percent” since news of the lawsuit against the group broke. They added a screenshot of the domain name registration page, showing that the website’s address was secured in late June, offering the suggestion that it was initially meant to be a broader platform for “residents, faculty and staff” at the school.
“After increasing and repeated dismissals and hostility by leadership, it is becoming a tool of wider advocacy and publicity,… but it didn’t have to be that way,” the SLUCP writes. “Perhaps residents, faculty and staff can still have an effect from the inside that may transform systems into what they must be in order to retain accreditations, improve the university’s public appeal, and promote the cultures of work and learning that all deserve.”
The disputed website was also altered to include a disclaimer.
“SLUCP is not affiliated, endorsed, sponsored, associated or currently very pleased with/by St. Louis University or its medical school,” the disclaimer reads.
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