Bizarre CSOL Ruling

REINSTATEMENT ORDER RAISES QUESTIONS … || By FITSNEWS || Against all odds – and despite the best efforts of its detractors – the Charleston School of Law (CSOL) is still standing. Not only that, the private institution is set to welcome a new class of students this fall thanks to budget-saving…


|| By FITSNEWS || Against all odds – and despite the best efforts of its detractors – the Charleston School of Law (CSOL) is still standing. Not only that, the private institution is set to welcome a new class of students this fall thanks to budget-saving measures implemented by its leaders earlier this year.

CSOL consolidated its facilities and used buyouts, voluntary separation packages and attrition to “right-size” its staff consistent with reduced enrollment (part of a nationwide trend) – but in the end seven positions still had to be cut.

Those necessary cuts have prompted legal action against the school – and a bizarre ruling on behalf of one of the plaintiffs.

S.C. circuit court judge Markley Dennis recently reinstated Nancy Zisk – one of the CSOL professors suing the school.

Zisk makes $129,000 a year not counting benefits.

Wait … can a judge really do that?  Reinstate a person like that?  Dennis evidently thinks so.  Not only that, an attorney for another of the fired professors said the judge’s ruling meant all of them could “go back if they wanted.”


This is insane.  A proposed government takeover of CSOL is one of the reasons the school is in its current predicament – and now the government is stepping in to dictate which employees the institution is permitted to fire?  And on what grounds?

Ridiculous …

CSOL is a private institution.  As such, it should have the right to hire and fire based on whatever criteria it chooses.  And last time we checked, “keeping the doors open” was a compelling criteria.

According to the school’s attorneys, Dennis’ ruling could “significantly and negatively impact the continued operation of the CSOL and the legal education of hundreds of students.”

Sources familiar with the school’s financial situation confirmed that assessment … but no matter what CSOL’s fiscal outlook is, this is the private sector.

Government doesn’t get to make these decisions.

We understand government’s desire to run unsustainable bureaucracies.  And we understand its desire to destroy commercial enterprise via the taxpayer subsidization of such unsustainable bureaucracies.

But this?  Mandating a private business operate in a fiscally unsustainable fashion?

That’s a new one on us …


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Victorious Secret August 4, 2015 at 1:42 pm

This picture seems appropriate to sum up the matter.

CSOL free CLE August 4, 2015 at 2:02 pm

I guess at-will employment and the availability of money damages have both been abolished in SC. Good to know. They didn’t teach me that at USC.

aeb August 4, 2015 at 2:21 pm

She is a tenured professor which is not the same as an at-will employee.

CSOL free CLE August 4, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Short tenure track at CSOL I guess. Anyway, and again, money damages have historically been used to remedy such wrongs. But this precedent could really be helpful. E.g., eliminate all child custody disputes; you just have to live under the same roof whether you like it or not. Should go well.

erneba August 4, 2015 at 2:14 pm

This is really odd, almost makes you think that there’s nookie involved in this decision. Its the only thing I know of that makes a good man go bad.

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And it makes a bad man go worse.

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That’s because it has universal male appeal.

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Will Folks aka Sic August 4, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Nookie? Or Nikki. But I repeat myself …. LOLOLOLzzzz.

Buddy Miles August 4, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Rembert taught the boy well.

Warning August 4, 2015 at 2:34 pm

Dennis has no authority to do this, thus acting out of his jurisdiction. His order is Null and Void. He screams the need to be thrown off the bench. People gotta rise up in SC and stomp out the corruption.

Jim August 4, 2015 at 2:43 pm

These people most likely have contracts. This is not an at will employment situation. This is bad reporting. Did anyone even review the basis of the decision. I suspect this is not nearly what this article portrays, the facts to be. If you enter into a contract with a person, that contract can be enforced even if it will bankrupt you in the process. Big business does it to people all the time. If a bank sues a business because they failed to pay a debt, do you think they care that the payment will bankrupt that business? Nope. Will the court order the business to pay the debt, even though it would be mandating a business to operate in a fiscally unsustainable manner? Yep.

Jackie Chiles August 4, 2015 at 4:42 pm

How many of CSOL’s attorneys graduated from the school?

jimlewisowb August 4, 2015 at 7:38 pm

“….. it should have the right to hire and fire based on whatever criteria it chooses…”

True up to point. However, if the employee had a written signed contract then not only is the employee bound by the terms/criteria of the contract but also the employer. Reinstatement would be appropriate if the employer violated terms of their own contract

In absence of a contract CSOL may have published an employee handbook outlining terms/criteria which could lead to an employee’s termination. Again if CSOL failed to follow its own written handbook guidelines then the employee has a right to regain their position

If the employee was not under a written contract nor the conditions set forth in a published handbook, then it would seem odd for any Judge to order reinstatement of employee.

If one works in a willy nilly company, then one is subject to willy nilly decisions

Of course there is always the chance that someone high up in CSOL made a pillow talk contract and in the ecstasy of the moment promised lifetime tenure in exchange for a little nilly with the willy. Again a contract is a contract.

Westbrooks Alter Ego August 5, 2015 at 4:03 am

It seems as if the issue is whether the school had a right to sever the contract due to a financial exigency, which is typically provided for in faculty tenure contracts and handbooks. I suppose if the school closes as a result of being forced to rehire the professor(s), then the school was justified in letting the professor(s) go. If not, then the judge’s decision is correct.

It strikes me that this Judge may model himself after Solomon by testing the behavior of the disputants following the ruling, except that He may, in my opinion, be more interested in sucking the blood of the baby cut in half rather than ascertaining the truth.

truthmonger August 5, 2015 at 7:50 am

EXCEPT where contracts are in place. I would expect for a position like that, some legal agreement had been signed (they’re all lawyers, after all!).Do you honestly believe that legally binding contracts should be invalidated simply because it is the private sector? Or does rule of law still apply? Oh, forgot, it’s FITS, where law only applies when “sick” wants it to.

Charleston Skool August 5, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Judge Dennis is one of the better state court judges. I expect he had a good reason. Please go find out what it was before you blast him.

CSOL August 5, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Tenured law professors aren’t at-will employees who can be fired in the way that these professors were terminated. That’s why the court correctly reinstated the professor. She was terminated in violation of her contract. There’s nothing unusual about the ruling.

CSOL August 5, 2015 at 1:27 pm

This is especially true when the reason claimed for termination–financial exigency–was self-created.

Lane D. Jefferies August 6, 2015 at 1:37 pm

The author of this article is clearly not qualified to write about legal issues. The entire article is based on the assumption that the professor does not have a contract with the school. That assumption is almost certainly wrong. As a result, the answer to the author’s question “can a judge really do that?” is “Yes, a Judge can Order that parties to a contract perform as the contract requires.”


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