Two lawsuits filed against Webster University have been settled by their respective parties. David Garafola v. Webster University was dismissed July 12, and David Schwartz v. Webster University was dismissed Jan. 31.
Schwartz, a former Webster student, sued the university for his dismissal from the Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling degree program in March 2011. Webster dismissed him for “lacking empathy,” Schwartz alleged in his suit — which he filed on Sept. 26, 2011. Schwartz’s case received national attention, including coverage in The Huffington Post and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Garafola was the vice president of finance and administration for Webster, serving in the position for 12 years. He alleged in his suit Webster had fired him after he complained about the university’s business practices.
Webster President Elizabeth Stroble said in February 2011 that Garafola had not been fired; rather, his contract had not been renewed. The Garafola case was filed on Jan. 24, 2011.
Garafola said he suffered losses of an annual compensation of $320,000 and damage to his reputation, resulting in Garafola’s inability to find a job. He requested compensation from Webster for his injuries, which exceeded $25,000.
Garafola could not be reached for comment. He is employed as the vice president for business affairs at Parker University in Dallas.
Schwartz sued Webster for $1 million in losses and $2 million in punitive damages, according to legal documents.
“I’m to say the matter was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction,” Schwartz said.
Since his dismissal, Schwartz moved to Boulder, Colo., and is teaching beginners’ guitar. He continues to seek other work.
“I wish Webster University well,” Schwartz said.
Ray Price, an attorney for the law firm Armstrong & Teasdale and a former Missouri Supreme Court judge, said there are several reasons a university like Webster would settle a case.
Price said by settling, a university avoids the risk of a high-cost verdict. A settlement also works to avoid the high cost of prolonged litigation — even if the university would expect to win. The university may also want to focus on more productive activities.
“The matter has been amicably resolved between the parties,” said Albert Watkins, a lawyer at the firm Kodner and Watkins and an attorney for Schwartz.
Victor Essen, a lawyer at the firm RSS & C and an attorney for Garafola, could not be reached for comment.
Attorneys for Webster in both cases would not comment regarding the outcome of the suits.
Webster University media relations specialist Susan Kerth said in an email, “We never comment on matters regarding litigation.”
Legal documents from the Garafola case can be found here
Past Garafola lawsuit coverage:
Past Schwartz lawsuit coverage: