Court: No Immunity for SUNY Community Colleges

February 26, 2015

Community colleges in the State University of New York System are neither financed nor controlled enough by New York's government to make them state entities entitled to legal immunity, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. The decision, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, came in a lawsuit brought by a former adjunct professor, Carol Leitner, who was fired by Westchester Community College for purportedly making offensive comments in class. A lower court judge had rejected Westchester Community College's assertion that it should be immune from Leitner's lawsuit because it is a state entity. The appeals panel upheld that ruling, saying the state would generally not be responsible for satisfying financial judgments against the two-year institution and that New York's government lacks significant control over its operations.

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