Former Charleston School of Law professors suing over terminations

The Charleston School of Law on Mary Street.

Two former Charleston School of Law professors have sued the school and its owners claiming they were fired in retaliation for their opposition to a sale to the for-profit InfiLaw System.

Allyson Haynes Stuart and Nancy Zisk, two tenured professors, were among the seven professors the school terminated in May.

Stuart and Zisk late last month filed breach of contract lawsuits in Circuit Court. They are asking for unspecified damages including loss of wages, health and pension benefits and future academic employment opportunities. They also are asking for an injunction, which would allow them to retain their tenured professor status and would require Charleston School of Law LLC as well as owners George Kosko and Robert Carr to make only routine expenditures to ensure money is available to pay Haynes’ and Stuart’s salaries.

Nancy Bloodgood, Stuart’s lawyer, said there will be a preliminary hearing on the injunction on July 29. The school must respond to the lawsuit before the hearing, she said, but it hasn’t done so yet.

Zisk is being represented by Capers Barr. Barr could not be reached for comment Monday.

According to court documents, Stuart and Zisk both said school leaders told them they were being terminated due to a financial exigency, or crisis, caused by declining enrollment. They were selected for termination because of their high salaries.

But Haynes and Zisk, however, claim they were fired because of their opposition to the proposed sale to InfiLaw.

The school has been in turmoil since leaders announced in July 2013 that a sale to InfiLaw was in the works. Opponents of the sale, which includes many students, faculty and members of the state’s legal community, have said they think a sale to InfiLaw would decrease the value of a Charleston School of Law degree because the company’s three other law schools have lower standards than the Charleston school.

Law school spokesman Andy Brack, in a prepared statement, said, “The Charleston School of Law does not comment on litigation involving the school or members of the LLC.”

Law school enrollment has declined from a high of 708 students in the fall of 2011 to about 450 students at the end of the 2014-15 school year.

But Haynes’ and Zisk’s lawsuits state the school and Kosko and Carr never have provided any proof that a financial exigency exists.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.