The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) said it has filed a suit against UCLA on behalf of a research professor who was terminated after he blew the whistle on junk environmental science and scientific misconduct at the University of California.
The lawsuit, filed yesterday in federal court in the central district of California in Los Angeles, names the Regents of UC as well as a number of top UCLA officials as defendants and contends the school violated Dr. James E. Enstrom's constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
"For approximately 35.5 years, from 1976 until November 2011," the suit says, "Dr. Enstrom served as a research faculty member in the UCLA School of Public Health ("School of Public Health" or "SPH")." But Enstrom's long-time academic career in the SPH Department of Environmental Health Sciences ("EHS") they claim, "was severely crippled and eventually ended" when the "Defendants initiated a series of actions designed to silence and ultimately terminate Dr. Enstrom in retaliation for his constitutionally-protected speech and actions."
The alleged recriminations occurred after Enstrom published peer-reviewed research that showed fine particulate matter does not kill Californians. Enstrom's detailed evidence, said the ACLJ in a press release yesterday, revealed how powerful UC professors and others, exaggerated the adverse health effects of diesel particulate matter in California, knowing "full well" they would "be used by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to justify draconian diesel vehicle regulations in California."
Furthermore it contends, Enstrom also exposed fraudulent educational claims by the CARB Report's lead author, who touted a UC Davis Ph.D. a degree he did not have, and used it to justify diesel regulations. In reality the lawsuit said, the author purchased a fake Ph.D. for $1,000 from a fictional "Thornhill University."
David French, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ said the "Facts of this case are astounding." Not only did UCLA terminate a professor after "35 years of service simply because he exposed the truth about an activist scientific agenda," it was done in a manner that was fraudulent and "violated California law for the sake of imposing expensive new environmental regulations on California businesses." French added that "UCLA's actions were so extreme that its own Academic Freedom Committee unanimously expressed its concern about the case."
These revelations have created a highly embarrassing situation for UCLA said the lawsuit, and have resulted in the removal of several SRP [CARB Scientific Review Panel] members, including one fellow ERS faculty member, Professor John R. Froines. Enstrom it claims, also discovered that several activist members of the CARB Scientific Review Panel on Toxic Air Contaminants had exceeded the legislatively mandated three-year term limits by decades.
Once Estrom blew the whistle contends the ACLJ, the retaliatory campaign against him caused permanent damage to both his reputation and his career. UCLA not only fired the professor, it also denied him any compensation for his work and looted his research fund accounts.
The result, the Center said, saw Dr. Enstrom working for more than a year without pay as "He in good faith appealed his wrongful termination using UCLA procedures." But ironically the Center said, "the fake "scientist" was only suspended for his misconduct while Dr. Enstrom was terminated for telling the truth."
The Regents of UCLA named as defendants in the lawsuit, are comprised of a 26 member board and include [among others], Gene Block, the Chancellor of the University of California; former Vice Chancellor of Academic Personnel, Thomas Rice; the current Chancellor of Academic Personnel, Carole Goldberg and Richard Jackson, the Chair and Professor for the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA.
French said, "If academic freedom means anything, it should permit a professor to challenge bad science and expose scientific misconduct," yet "UCLA appears more committed to a political agenda than to free and open inquiry."
According to the ACLJ, during Dr. Enstrom's internal appeals, UCLA refused to allow him to present his full case and officials constantly changed the grounds for dismissal. "How can we have confidence in the findings of environmental health scientists if they allow politics to trump science?" asked French.
The suit contends that Dr. Enstrom's constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments were violated, along with his right to free speech on matters of public concern and his due process rights. The suit is requesting an injunction requiring UCLA to rehire Dr. Enstrom, and is seeking monetary damages to be determined by a jury.
Back in April, a UCLA doctor also sued UCLA Regents, alleging racial bias. Dr. Christian Head said the university failed to prevent harassment after he was humiliated by a graduation night faculty roast. Dr. Head said he had suffered retaliation from UCLA for filing complaints.
UCLA officials in a statement also released yesterday, said they "Have not yet seen the complaint," and "the university strongly disputes the allegations made in a statement issued by attorneys for James Enstrom and intends to vigorously contest the lawsuit in court." Enstrom they added, received:
A full and fair hearing consistent with applicable procedures, including a hearing before a retired judge serving as an independent hearing officer.
The grievance process concluded in August 2011 UCLA said, resulting in Enstrom's appointment ending on June 30, 2012. "Because Enstrom is not a professor," they explained, "the rules and regulations governing his employment differ from those of a tenured faculty member."
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice focuses on constitutional law and is based in Washington, D.C. The Center says it is committed to ensuring the ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world.