Federal judge dismisses part of fired FAU prof’s lawsuit against school

2:51 p.m Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 Local
James Tracy, former Florida Atlantic University professor (Contributed)

A federal judge on Thursday dismissed part of fired Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy’s lawsuit against the school — but the crux of his case remains intact, according to Tracy’s attorney.

Tracy, known for being vocal about controversial mass-casualty conspiracies such as the Sandy Hook school shooting, was fired in January.

A complex, 50-page complaint filed by Tracy’s attorneys lists 10 counts of wrongdoing on the part of Florida Atlantic University and its employees in Tracy’s termination, which they argue violated his First Amendment rights.

Eight of those counts were dismissed by Judge Robin L. Rosenberg, who gave Tracy’s attorneys until Dec. 28 to revise and re-file the lawsuit.

Two counts were granted:

“This is really about narrowing the issues down for trial,” said Louis Leo IV, Tracy’s attorney. “There is so much you have to deal with.”

They plan to revise the complaint and continue with the lawsuit, with the ultimate goal of landing the case before a jury, Leo said.

“(Tracy) is optimistic and is looking forward to his day in court,” Leo said. “We’re moving forward.”

The lawsuit filed was admittedly “complex,” Leo said, because it involves holding individual university employees, many of them listed as defendants, responsible for Tracy’s dismissal.

“It’s not just FAU officials who fired him for his speech, but (faculty) union officials who conspired against him,” Leo said. “There are so many moving parts.”

The free speech Tracy’s lawsuit refers to is his blog, Memory Hole, a non-university-affiliated outlet for posting conspiracy claims — which often attracted the attention of national media.

Tracy was fired for misfiling paperwork, according to the university. That paperwork includes a form that would detail an employee’s online activities outside the university, even if they were unpaid activities.

Leo argues that requiring Tracy to file that form in the first place is “unconstitutional” by nature.

“The way it stands, they could start firing people for not disclosing their Facebook pages,” Leo said following a hearing in early December.

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