Former student files appeal against U

Devon Sykes

A former University graduate student has filed an appeal in his ongoing $1.7 million case against the University.

Radu Rasidescu, who was pursuing a doctoral degree in the astronomy department, claimed the University breached tuition and degree program contracts and committed fraud, discrimination, invasion of privacy, defamation, abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

Since Rasidescu lost his first lawsuit, he has filed an appeal, and the University plans to respond by the end of the week.

Rasidescu was preparing to start his doctoral program fall 2003. According to the brief he filed with the U.S. 8th District Circuit Court of Appeals, astronomy professor Liliya Williams had agreed to pay his tuition.

University Deputy General Counsel Bill Donohue said, “We don’t believe that any such promise was made to him.”

Rasidescu claimed that after he found out his tuition was not being paid, director of graduate studies Evan Skillman and Leonard Kuhi, who at the time was chair of the astronomy department, covered up Williams’ obligation to pay.

Rasidescu also claimed that Kuhi sent a defamatory and slanderous e-mail to Rasidescu and several professors in the astronomy department, saying that Skillman and Williams refused to sign his degree program form and “stole” it, and that the University’s informal and formal complaint resolution departments failed to properly resolve his complaints.

In Sept. 2004, Rasidescu sued the University, the Graduate School, the astronomy department, and Williams, Skillman and Kuhi, filing eight claims that totaled $1.7 million in damages.

“The $1.7 million is speculative and intended for shock value more than anything,” Donohue said. “We don’t think he has a meritorious claim.”

The General Counsel’s office filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which claimed Rasidescu had improperly served his complaints, the court did not have jurisdiction over the case and that none of Rasidescu’s complaints had grounds for relief.

“The complaint is a morass of allegations, none of which provide a short and plain statement of the grounds on which the plaintiff is entitled to relief,” according to the memorandum in support of the motion to dismiss.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota originally agreed with the University, dismissing the claims on the basis that the court did not have jurisdiction in the case.

However, Rasidescu filed an appeal and the University plans on filing its response today. Both parties waived oral arguments, so the court will base its ruling on the filed documents.

“It’s very rare for us to have a lawsuit by a student claiming we had agreed to pay his tuition,” Donohue said.

He said that when students sue the University it’s typically over “dismissals from school.”

Calls to Rasidescu went unreturned.