Former SFA art gallery director, university reach settlement in federal lawsuit

Published: Dec. 1, 2014 at 8:38 PM CST
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Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A former Stephen F. Austin State University employee and the college have reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit in which he claimed that he was wrongfully terminated in 2010 for saying no to a request by U.S. Rep Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, and referring to the politician as a "fear monger."

According to the notice of settlement filed with the US District Court's Marshall Division on Nov. 25, a settlement was reached on Nov. 21 as a result of a mediation session that occurred on Nov. 13.

In addition, the parties in the federal lawsuit requested that the US District Court postpone any deadlines until Dec. 31. The court document did not disclose the amount of the settlement. However, it did say that Cutler's attorneys will file paperwork to dismiss the lawsuit within three days of receiving the settlement payment.

In the lawsuit, Cutler argued that he lost his job because he denied Gohmert's request to judge an art show at the SFA Gallery and referred to the Republican politician as a "fear monger." Although Cutler later apologized to Gohmert, SFA's leadership fired him and later allowed him to resign.

"University employees and really public employees everywhere know that their First Amendment rights will be respected and can be enforced in court," Cutler's attorney Tim Garrigan said in a previous East Texas News story. "And I think that's particularly helpful here in Nacogdoches and at SFA for the employees to understand that they do have a right to speak their political views, and they don't have to worry about jeopardizing their job."

Back in September, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against SFA's appeal. As a result of the ruling, the case could have gone to a jury trial if the two sides in the case hadn't reached a settlement.

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