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Ave Maria law school settles lawsuits with two former professors

By LIAM DILLON

Thursday, July 16, 2009
Naples News

— Two former Ave Maria School of Law professors have settled their employment claims against the school, its founding dean and its primary benefactor, the professors’ attorney said Thursday.

The professors, Ed Lyons and Phil Pucillo, filed suit after they were denied tenure by the school, contending the tenure denial was retaliation essentially for opposing the school’s move from Michigan to Southwest Florida and reporting the school to various law enforcement and legal agencies.

“We have agreed to a settlement, which does involve their obtaining tenure in part,” said their attorney Deborah Gordon, adding Lyons and Pucillo would have no continuing relationship with the law school.

Gordon said she expected the settlement to be final within 30 days.

The case of the third professor to file suit, Steve Safranek, remains active. Safranek was a tenured professor who lost his job two years ago, and also contends his termination was retaliatory.

A spokesman for the law school declined comment.

Lyons, Pucillo and Safranek filed their suit in October 2007 against the law school, founding Dean Bernard Dobranski, law school Board Chairman Tom Monaghan and other related organizations.

The Ave Maria School of Law begins classes in its new North Naples location next month.