Whistleblower trial: Jury rules in favor of the University of Michigan
A Washtenaw County jury decided in favor of the University of Michigan today, rejecting a former graduate student's claims that the university halted his assistantship unfairly last year after he reported alleged safety violations.
After deliberating for about six hours on Monday and today, the jury ruled there was no cause in the lawsuit and didn't award anything to Robert McGee, 54.
David Masson of U-M's Office of General Counsel said the jury found McGee was not discriminated against by U-M.
Jurors discussed the trial in Judge Archie Brown's chambers for about an 90 minutes after the verdict was read. They declined to comment as they left the courthouse.
McGee sued the U-M Board of Regents for unspecified damages under the state Whistleblower's Protection Act.
McGee was a research assistant in the nuclear engineering program and was told his services were no longer needed in a neutron science lab on Feb. 20, 2008. He said that occurred four days after he reported that Michael Hartman, the professor who oversaw his work, potentially committed safety violations. McGee testified Hartman entered another professor's lab without her permission, not knowing whether a highly radioactive source was active.
Hartman, an assistant professor with the U-M College of Engineering, testifiedÂ McGee repeatedly missed deadlines on a lab project and was unresponsive to e-mails and phone calls that attempted to set goals toward its completion. The troubling pattern of behavior was the primary reason the student was relieved early of his duties as a graduate student research assistant, he said.
Christine Green, an Ann Arbor attorney who represented McGee, did not return a call from AnnArbor.com today.
The trial started Nov. 9.