FEA professor sued CSULB before

Before Film and Electronic Arts Professor Brian Alan Lane sued the Cal State University for $6 million, Lane and then-FEA chair Sharyn Blumenthal filed suit against each other and the CSU, alleging instances of discrimination and defamation.

Lane, who is currently suing the CSU alongside Department Chair Michael Pounds, took Blumenthal and Cal State Long Beach to court in 2004 for discriminating against him because he was a heterosexual male.

The FEA professor settled out-of-court with the university for $95,000, according to court documents acquired by the Daily 49er. The case was dismissed on July 7, 2005.

Lane declined to comment on any matters relating to the lawsuits, but CSULB attorney Andrew Jones confirmed that the CSU settled with Lane and Blumenthal.

Blumenthal told the Daily 49er that her settlement was “confidential” but that it included an apology letter on behalf of the CSU Chancellor’s Office from Gary Reichard, then-CSULB Provost.

In June 2004, a CSULB Department of Equality and Diversity report found that Blumenthal had discriminated against Lane because he was a heterosexual male, according to court documents. However, Blumenthal, then-FEA department chair, alleged the report’s investigation didn’t allow her due process.

The former FEA chair alleged, in court documents, that the report ignored facts that Lane “had been poisoning the atmosphere in the department” against her and that “he was intimidating and coercing students and faculty.”

Blumenthal also cites the report as saying Lane was “responsible for some conflict,” that he was a “manipulator, freely offering assistance as a way to amass allegiances among his peers” and that he acts with little regard for “future relationship-building” within the FEA department.

Court documents also reveal that Blumenthal pushed for Lane’s hiring in 2002, but that Lane allegedly soon began to work “behind-the-scenes with [then-Dean of the College of the Arts Donald Para] and others in the department to undermine her reputation and diminish her role as leader in the department.”

The pending lawsuits against the university also include allegations of discrimination but ask for much more than Lane’s previous settlement — professors Pounds and Lane are asking for $6 million.

In court documents relating to the pending case, Pounds accuses Provost Para of saying, “Maybe this will get him to retire,” after Pounds allegedly fell from a window while attempting to fix a blackout shade for a class in 2006.

Pounds, described as a “61-year-old, African American male who is permanently partially disabled” in the court documents, alleged Para attempted to block his appointment to department chair.

Pounds is suing the university for discrimination on the basis of age, race and disability. He claims he is now “partially disabled” from the fall.

These same documents also allege that, upon Pounds’ election, Para and Interim Dean of the College of the Arts James Kvapil attached discriminatory conditions that limited the FEA professors’ three-year term as department chair.

The FEA department chair also accuses Para of saying, “[Pounds] has one foot out the door” and calling him “dead wood.”

In the same court documents, Lane claims that Alexander, Kvapil and Para slandered his professional reputation by falsely claiming he had engaged in “financial fraud.”

“We believe the case is completely without merit and we intend to defend against it vigorously,” Jones said.

On May 9, the CSU Auditor’s Office released a report accusing a CSULB arts professor of misusing scholarship money and filing a false $10,000 reimbursement claim, but no name was mentioned.

CSULB officials, including President F. King Alexander and Jones, have refused to confirm the individual subject to the audit, citing ongoing investigations. 

Jones said the audit report was not conclusive and that CSULB was engaged in an ongoing investigation.

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