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ND Supreme Court hears 2 UND-related cases

ND Supreme Court hears 2 UND-related cases Click to Enlarge

The North Dakota Supreme Court on Thursday heard the appeal of former UND anthropology professor Frank Cuozzo, who’s challenging a lower court ruling that upheld his firing by school president Mark Kennedy.

In 2017, Cuozzo was told UND planned to fire him for violating a performance plan initiated after campus police arrested him in 2015 for DUI and driving with a revoked license.

After hearing Cuozzo’s appeal, UND’s Committee on Faculty Rights recommended to Kennedy that Cuozzo be allowed to resign – even though there was cause for termination.

Four days later, Kennedy sent a brief letter to Cuozzo saying he would be terminated.

Cuozzo’s attorney Leo Wilking says Kennedy was obligated to give details based on the hearing record, but failed to do so.

"I don't know the circumstances under which this letter...was drafted," Wilking said, "but it certainly seems very cursory and very slapdash, and doesn't include what it needed to include. That's a breach of contract."

Defense attorney Courtney Titus says the fact that Kennedy did not follow the committee’s recommendation shows that he did review the evidence.

The High Court took the case under advisement.

The Supreme Court also heard the case of the mother of a UND student who was found dead five hours after a 2012 campus party.

An autopsy by Dr. Mary Ann Sens of UND said Blake Ayling had a blood-alcohol level of point-2-7-8….and died accidentally of blood loss.

Robin Ayling of Champlin (MN) sued Sens in 2017, claiming her son showed no signs of intoxication at the party. A district court dismissed her complaint, because she did not sue within the three-year statute of limitations.

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