Cornell Professor Sues Wesleyan University over Misleading Photograph

Personal injury lawsuit commonly involve around slip and fall accidents or auto accidents that results in bodily injuries, but an individual may also received a personal injury to his or her reputation. That’s why Cornell University Professor Stephen L. Morgan is suing Wesleyan University. The lawsuit claims that Wesleyan released a photograph to national and international media outlets that identified the professor as the alleged killed of 21-year-old Wesleyan student Johanna Justin-Jinich.

Stephen L. Morgan, 38, is a sociology professor who lives in Ithaca, NY, and teaches at Cornell - hundreds of miles from Wesleyan’s Middletown campus. He says that he has suffered “humiliation, mental anguish and emotional distress” from the photo mix-up that happened in May.

Connecticut State Police and Middletown police officers gave the photograph of the Cornell professor to Wesleyan University. The officers had gotten the image from a driver’s license database. According to Morgan’s attorney, the photo was taken when he was a student at Harvard University.

Police were looking for Stephen P. Morgan, a 29-year-old man from Massachusetts. They sent the photo of Professor Morgan to Wesleyan University officials so that they could determine if the professor had any kind of connection with the school. The officers did not give the university permission to publish or release the image. But, of course, Wesleyan did release the image. The photo was published on several websites and even appeared on CNN with a report which stated “police believe he may be targeting the school and Jews.”

Then Wesleyan employees began to notice comments on a university message board which stated that the man in the photo did not resemble the gunman in surveillance videos. University officials realized that the man in the photo they had released was not the murder suspect. By then, the damage had already been done to Professor Morgan’s reputation.

“Dr. Morgan has been forced to expend significant amounts of time and effort explaining that he is not a murderer to his family, friends, colleagues, students, professional associates, and others,” states the lawsuit. “Through these statements, [Wesleyan] implied that Dr. Morgan murdered the victim and may murder others because of their Jewish faith thereby implying that Dr. Morgan was a homicidal racist.”

Dr. Morgan has not commented on the case. His attorney James K. Robertson said, “Wesleyan was understandably in turmoil, but that doesn’t justify the reckless damage to Dr. Morgan’s spotless reputation.”

Robertson also said that the professor is still contacting various websites in an effort to have his photography taken down. “It seems to be a story without an end,” said Robertson.

Police eventually caught the right man, Stephen P. Morgan, 29, a former Navy petty officer, and charged him with Justin-Jinich’s murder. The two had met in a summer class at New York University.

If someone else has damaged your professional reputation, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact a Georgia personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.