Lawsuit from former professors could cost CAU millions

ATLANTA — Five former Clark Atlanta professors are suing the university after they say they were wrongfully terminated during a mass layoff.

Channel 2’s Craig Lucie spoke with them and their attorneys. They have already won part of their case, but now they are asking another jury to help them recover their losses.

“It’s been a hard journey,” said former professor Lonzy Lewis.

We met Lonzy Lewis along with Henry Neal, Frank Sisya and Johnny Wilson.

“Somebody came into my office and told me to turn my computer off, to turn in my ID and leave,” Neal said.

Five tenured professors are suing Clark Atlanta University after police escorted 54 faculty members off campus on Feb. 6, 2009. It's a day they will never forget.

“They said if you don’t leave, we will shackle, we will you handcuff you and we will put you in a paddy wagon. They said if you come here without special permission, we will put you in jail and by the way, you are banned from the university for life,” said Johnny Wilson.


At the time, Clark Atlanta University cited an “enrollment emergency.”

The professors sued in 2013 for breach of a tenured contract and won. But they appealed part of the ruling.

“The court made an error in limiting the damage to professors to one year and we appealed that,” said attorney Mitchell Benjamin with Delong, Caldwell, Bridges and Fitzpatrick Attorney at Law.

They just won that appeal so now it goes back to trial

“The jury’s sole role will be to determine the amount of fully compensatory damages,” Benjamin said.

Many of these professors were making $40,000 to $48,000. One of them, though, was making more than $66,000 so multiplying that by seven years adds up to almost a half-million dollars. This is a case that could cost Clark Atlanta millions.

When Lucie reached out to Clark Atlanta University to get their side they said:

“CAU has a policy of not commenting on pending legal matters. Because this case remains in litigation, we are not able to comment at this time.”

Mitchell Benjamin says they have practically begged Clark Atlanta to settle this and say the university refuses to do it. He believes this new jury will settle the case in 2017.

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