WILKES-BARRE – A former Penn State Wilkes-Barre professor who was fired for plagiarism has appealed a Luzerne County judge's ruling that dismissed a lawsuit he filed against the university.
Mohamad Nouri of McLean, Va., filed suit in 2006, alleging two university officials improperly revealed information about the plagiarism case that led another college to revoke an employment offer.
Judge Lesa Gelb recently dismissed the lawsuit, finding that Nouri had not presented evidence to support his allegation that the university officials acted in bad faith.
Nouri, a mathematics professor, was fired in April 2004 after an investigation revealed he had plagiarized the work of other professors and students.
According to court papers, Nouri was offered a position at Catholic University for the 2005-06 academic year. The college later revoked that offer based on information it obtained about the Penn State plagiarism case.
Nouri alleged two Penn State Wilkes-Barre officials, Rodney Erickson, vice provost, and Mary Hines, chancellor, interfered with his contractual relationship with Catholic University by revealing information about the case to Dr. John Convey, the provost at Catholic University.
In a June 29 opinion dismissing the case, Gelb said pre-trial evidence showed that Convey learned about the plagiarism case when he came across a website run by Nouri that contained news articles about his termination.
In an affidavit, Convey said he had spoken to Erikson, but that Erickson only confirmed that the news articles were accurate.
Gelb noted civil law statutes say an employer may be liable for disclosing information about an employee only if the information is false or misleading. If the employer acted in good faith, it is immune from liability.
In Nouri's case, Gelb said it was clear that Convey based his decision on information he obtained from articles posted on Nouri's website.
"The only evidence established by the plaintiff confirms that he disclosed his website and his problems at Pennsylvania State University to members of Catholic University. This evidence does not in any way establish that Penn State or Dr. Erickson did anything inappropriate," Gelb said.
Gelb also dismissed the case against Hines, finding that, contrary to Nouri's allegations, Hines was not even employed at Penn State at the time Convey was alleged to have spoken to her.
Nouri, acting as his own attorney, filed an appeal Monday of Gelb's ruling to the state Superior Court.