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SPECIAL REPORTStill Ongoing Lawsuit; 1 Year after Dongguk Sued Yale
  • Yun Sang-young, Post Reporter
  • 승인 2009.04.24 16:50
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 5 September 2005  A Dongguk University(DU) administrator sends a registered letter to Yale University Graduate School Associate Dean Pmela Schirmeister, requesting to verify the authenticity of a letter if the documents Shin Jeong-ah had submitted to DU for getting employed are true and genuine.

22 September 2005  Schirmeister confirms via fax that Shin received her doctorate from Yale, stating that "The attached letter was issued by the Yale Graduate School and signed by myself."

11 June 2007  Yale University informs DU that Shin did not receive a doctorate from them, stating that the degree confirmation fax letter sent in 2005 by Schirmeister was  "not authentic" but a forgery.  Yale also announces that it had not received a registered letter in 2005 asking whether Shin had received a doctorate from Yale.

20 July 2007  DU fires Shin for fabricating her academic records, including a bachelor'a degree from the University of Kansas and a doctorate from Yale University.

August 2007  DU sends Yale University an e-mail saying it had located the U.S. Postal Service tracking-records showing that its 2005 registered letter was signed by a Yale staff member.

29 December 2007  Yale University officials issue a statement expressing both their regrets and admitting to the error.

27 March 2008  DU sued Yale University for at least $50 million, claiming Yale's actions has "severely tarnished" its reputation.

                                                                                                                        -From Wikipedia-

   Part1    What Has Happened After That?

   After Dongguk filed a civil lawsuit with the Connecticut District Court against Yale in March 2008, Yale appeared to delay its defense answer - a duty which should be done within 30 days from the date of getting sued.  Soon, Yale turned in a request for the maximum extension to be fixed for June 2008. "This shows that Yale wants to avoid a trial," said Jeon Byoung-geon, a director of Strategic Planning & Budgeting at Dongguk.

   In the meantime, Yale filed papers asking for a dismissal of the lawsuit, arguing that "The lawsuit fails to state a legally valid claim." Felix J. Springer, the lawyer for Yale, asserted that what is at the heart of the case is "an in-South Korea scandal involving fraud, embezzlement, an illicit sexual relationship and political corruption." These domestic factors diminish the significance of its (Yale's) administrative error.  "We don't think it has merit," said Ira Grudberg, an attorney for Dongguk, alluding to Yale's contention that DU's lawsuit is worthless.  Moreover, Grudberg spoke with confidence when he argued that punitive damage could be awarded against Yale on top of the original $50 million suit for trying to cover up their error.

   In September 2008, it was reported that Dongguk had refused to accept an apology from Yale in the first dispute settlement.  The apology included: a public apology for the original administrative error, repentant advertisements in the main South Korean newspapers, and the promise of joint educational programs between the two schools.

  A Dongguk official said: "we rejected the offer, as we thought we could regain our honor by winning the suit." This is a clear signal that Dongguk will keep pursuing compensation for defamation.  According to Yale Daily News, the Federal court records show a settlement conference was held in Connecticut District Court on August 28 in front of United States Magistrate Judge F. Martinez.  According to court records, no settlement reached at that meeting.

   On the other hand, there was an incident in December 2008 when the judge in charge suddenly requested himself to be removed from the tribunal.  It is now a generally accepted truth that the judge felt his position was untenable because of prior employment with Yale.  Expert opinion, however, concurred that it is impossible for the lawsuit to be dismissed.  Dongguk officials though agreed with the Judge's decision: "it might have been difficult for the judge to decide against Yale."  In February 2009, soon after the judge was changed, the Connecticut District Court finally rejected Yale's appeal to dismiss the Dongguk suit.  "The court decision to reject Yale's request tells us that the U.S. court at least does not see the issue as an honest mistake'," remarked a Dongguk University spokesman.  He added: "it has significance for us because the U.S. court sided with Dongguk in the 1st round of the lawsuit."

 

  Part2     An In-Depth Interview with Jeon Byoung-geon, an Official of Dongguk

Q: Yale contends that Dongguk tried to shift the blame to them even though the case involved an extraneous sex scandal and political corruption.

A:  It is a totally groundless allegation.  We have sued Yale on the facts and proofs.  Needless to say, Dongguk has been publicly humiliated and its reputation was seriously damaged by the contradictory messages coming from Yale.  Our recent survey shows that the majority of Korean people still wrongly believe that it was Dongguk that failed to confirm Shin? degree and had also tried to conceal this error with forged documents.  All that matters is that we have been defamed by Yale: the sex scandal is a private affair unrelated to Dongguk.



Q: There is still an element of doubt about whether it was wise to reject the apology offer made by Yale in the first dispute settlement.  Is Dongguk only interested in getting $50 million?

A: Of course, there is no surety on receiving $50 million in cash.  The extent of the amount of compensation could vary according to what Yale offers.  To illustrate what I mean: it may be possible to accept the apology offer of reduced amount of cash compensation on the condition that Yale proposes a regular student exchange program and exchange professors every year.  When it comes to the original apology and offer of compensation, Yale's suggestion is unsatisfactory.  Dongguk, however, is still flexible on the alternatives and will keep open-minded to Yale's suggestion in the upcoming dispute settlement.


   As Yale failed in its motion to get the Dongguk suit overturned, the two universities are expected to have a hearing testimony that will last until August 31 2009.  Pamela Schirmeister, Yale University Graduate School Associate Dean, Susan Carney, Deputy General Counsel of Yale, Gila Reinstein, Assistant Director of Yale Public Affairs, will be summoned as witnesses by Dongguk.  Dongguk and Yale will have the second dispute settlement on September 2008.  If they find it difficult to reach a conclusion, the jury, in adherence with the regulations of United States district courts, will pass its verdict upon the case.

 

                                                                                             By Yun Sang-young, Post Reporter

Yun Sang-young, Post Reporter  letterbee@dongguk.edu

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