Former North Dakota Attorney General Nicholas Spaeth will have to litigate his age discrimination claims against a group of law schools in their respective home states, a Washington federal court judge has ordered.
Spaeth, who was born in 1950, sued six law schools in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming school officials denied him a tenure-track teaching job because he was older than other candidates.
The first complaint, filed in July, named Michigan State University College of Law as the only defendant, but an amended complaint filed in November added five schools: University of Missouri School of Law, University of California Hastings College of the Law, Georgetown University Law Center, University of Iowa College of Law and University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
On Feb. 17, U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle granted motions filed by the schools in Michigan, Missouri, California and Iowa to sever their cases and transfer them to their home state jurisdictions. Spaeth failed to show that his claims against the schools were related, Huvelle wrote.
“He has not alleged that defendants conspired in declining to interview him or offer him a job, nor has he claimed that they acted pursuant to a shared policy,” Huvelle wrote.
Spaeth had argued that his claims all stemmed from applications he submitted as part of a 2010 American Association of Law Schools recruitment conference in Washington. However, Huvelle wrote that Spaeth failed to present any evidence that the schools made their decision not to interview or hire him during that conference.
“Indeed, Spaeth’s complaint suggests that administrators at the defendant law schools who did not interview him decided against doing so on their own campuses, at various points in time prior to their coming to Washington,” she wrote.
Motions to dismiss filed by Georgetown and Maryland are still pending. Both schools limited their motions to the merits of Spaeth’s claims, since location wasn’t an issue. All six of the schools have denied that they declined to interview or hire Spaeth because of his age.
An attorney for Spaeth, Alan Kabat of Washington’s Bernabei & Wachtel, said his client is now focusing on the Georgetown and Maryland motions and is “still considering options on the other cases.”
Joan Howarth, dean of Michigan State’s law school, said in a statement, “We are pleased with the court’s ruling from Friday because it moves us closer to being able to establish definitively that we did not discriminate.” The school is being represented by Fulbright & Jaworski.
A spokeswoman for University of Missouri School of Law, which is being represented by Bryan Cave, declined to comment. A spokesman for the University of Iowa, which is being represented by the Iowa attorney general’s office, also declined to comment.
A Hastings spokesman was not available for comment on Tuesday. An attorney for the school, Susanne Carnell of Lorenger & Carnell in Alexandria, Va., also could not immediately be reached.
Contact Zoe Tillman at email@example.com.