Lacrosse Player Sues Duke, Prof Over ‘F’

Fresh on the heels of Duke’s offer of reinstatement to former lacrosse players Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty comes additional legal action involving a team member: Kyle Dowd has filed suit against a Duke professor and the university, accusing visiting professor Kim Curtis of giving him a failing grade in a course:

Kyle Dowd filed the lawsuit Thursday against against Duke University and visiting associate [sic] professor Kim Curtis. Dowd, who graduated with David Evans in May 2006, was not indicted in the rape case but says that Professor Curtis gave him and another lacrosse player in class a failing grade in class as a form of retaliation after the Duke Lacrosse scandal broke. The two players were apparently receiving passing grades until the scandal, and Duke University revised their grades upward months after graduation.

This does not affect the pending sexual offense and kidnapping case against David Evans, Reade Seligmann, and Collin Finnerty. But it is significant in being the first of likely to be many legal and moral hits against Duke University – critics say that Duke failed to stand by its own students as they came under attack by members of the faculty and community. …

Duke is being sued for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. Curtis and Duke are being sued for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and punitive damages. For all but one of those claims the lawsuit states that the plaintiffs were damaged in excess of $10,000.

Professor Curtis was among the “Group of 88” professors who published an advertisement in the Duke Chronicle calling the rape scandal a “social disaster.” The Group of 88, perceived by critics as attacking the Lacrosse team, at one point thanked protesters who posted “wanted” fliers containing photos of all or nearly all of the Lacrosse players.

Margaret Soltan correctly headlines this story as the first of what are likely to be many lawsuits going after the deep pockets at Duke.

Disclaimer: During the 2005-06 academic year, I was a visiting assistant professor of political science at Duke, and thus a colleague of Curtis’.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, , , , ,
Chris Lawrence
About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi. He began writing for OTB in June 2006. Follow him on Twitter @lordsutch.


  1. sgtfluffy says:

    This is one lawsuit I am glad to see happening.

  2. Cock-a-doodle-Duke! The chickens are coming home to roost.

  3. Steve Verdon says:

    This is too bad as Duke is a decent school, and also a major center of Bayesian statistics (this the major reason why this whole story caught my attention). But I can’t say that I’m shocked, and it is probably a good thing. The faculty and administration at Duke were either silent or cheerleaders for the misbehavior of Nifong. There were some exceptions, but overall, the entire school has been tarnished by this whole story…and they brought it on themselves.

  4. Mike Schmidt says:

    Kim Curtis’ related interests:

    “Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science,specializes in political theory with particular concentration in contemporary continental work and feminist theory. She has written Our Sense of the Real: Aesthetic Experience and Arendtian Politics. She has also published articles on multicultural education, ethical debates among feminists over new reproductive technologies, and the early women’s liberation movement. She is currently at work on a book on the feminist movement in the United States that examines the relationship between theory and practice.”

  5. just me says:

    Sounds like this guy has grounds.

    I think this is why, as much as people want to see people punished when accusations are made, you need to let the system play itself out.

    Booting the accused from school has proved to have been a mistake, but giving people F’s for being associated with the accused is even worse.

    I hope they lose the suit, and I hope other players treated this way start filing suit.

  6. Chris says:

    What on earth does Prof. Curtis’ research have to do with political science? Please enlighten me, because, although I have a BA and MA in political science, in my day, we studied, umh, politics. Makes me want to move forward with a doctorate, because, geez, looks like to me you can just make up s*** and call it “political science.