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LSU Professor and Hurricane Katrina Expert Files Retaliation and Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

February 17, 2010

Our Anaheim, California-based attorneys at Howard Law, PC have been reading about the recent wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Dr. Ivor van Heerden, recent deputy director of the Louisiana State University (LSU) Hurricane Center, where he is accusing LSU officials of retaliation, that led to his termination.

Dr. Igor van Heerden, a professor, disaster science specialist, author, and hurricane researcher, filed a whistleblower suit against the university and university officials last week, claiming that while he led the Louisiana team conducting a massive investigation into Hurricane Katrina, he suffered retaliation and harassment for years after making comments that criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' failure to keep the New Orleans safe.

After Hurricane Katrina, Dr. van Heerden spearheaded a major investigation examining the cause of the hurricane with the Louisiana State Forensic Data Gathering Team, called "Team Louisiana." Dr. van Heerden stated in his research that the levee design engineered by the Army Corps of Engineers proved to be a failure, and testified in front of Congress that this action was inexcusable, as the residents deserved to have proper levees that were secure. He also wrote many articles and published a best-selling book entitled "The Storm," where he attributed around 90 percent Katrina's flooding to the design failure of the levees.

According to the suit, University officials made attempts to quiet Dr. van Heerden from his public criticism and accused him of jeopardizing LSU's relationship with the Army Corps of Engineers and the federal government--risking LSU's posibilities for federal funding. Soon after the Team Louisiana report was released in April 2007, van Heerden requested as an expert witness on a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers and the federal government. Van Heerden asked for permission to testify, and was later told that his employment would be terminated if he proceeded to testify against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Dr. van Heerden claims that after the university was unable to silence him, they found ways to manipulate the university procedures and policies, and wrongfully terminate his employment in April 2009. Van Heerden states in his whistleblower suit that the university violated his First Amendment rights, his contract with the university, and state law, as well as placing the interests of the university before of the safety and health of Louisiana state residents living in the front line of potential Gulf Coast hurricanes every year. His lawsuit aims to defend the rights of academics and scientists to be able to speak freely without experiencing retaliation in the university or scientific workplace.

Howard Law, PC protects worker's rights in whistleblower claims and other labor and employment issues in Los Angeles County, Orange County and throughout Southern California. Contact our Anaheim-based Labor & Employment Attorneys to find the best solution for you today.

LSU Professor Ivor van Heerden Files Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Against LSU and University Officials for 'Campaign of Retaliation' for Criticizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Following Hurricane Katrina, PR Newswire, February 10, 2010

LSU Professor Ivan van Heerden's Lawsuit Asserts Right to Speak Out on Corps Errors, The Times-Picayune, February 10, 2010

Related Web Resources:

The Whistleblower Protection Program, OSHA