U.S. District Judge Sarah Merriam dismissed Dr. Bandy Lee’s wrongful termination lawsuit against Yale University. The lawsuit accused Yale of violating Lee’s free speech and professional obligations when she was not reappointed to her role with the school. She claims she was fired over her public statements criticizing then-President Donald Trump and his inner circle. Lee blames her termination on a letter sent to Yale by Trump’s friend Alan Dershowitz.
Dr. Lee was not considered a staff member or employee of Yale University. She was a voluntary, unpaid staff member. She sued Yale last March over breach of contract and lack of good faith, involving her academic freedom. She claimed she was threatened to be fired by her department chair after Alan Dershowitz wrote a letter to Yale in 2020. Dershowitz is a Trump lawyer and friend and a Yale law school graduate.
Lee gained national recognition in 2017 when she held a conference at Yale that focused on Trump’s mental health. She then wrote a book speculating about Trump’s mental health and got other professionals involved. It was titled “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” She went all in on the subject. She briefed dozens of members of the House and Senate, the media was thrilled to have Lee on to talk about her professional opinions about Trump even though she had never even met the man, House Democrats planned a town hall on Trump’s mental health, and talk of using the 25th Amendment became an obsession in D.C.
Dr. Lee was reprimanded by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for her use of “armchair psychiatry.” It was clear at the time to everyone not deeply infected with Trump Derangement Syndrome that Lee was way out of bounds for what she was doing. She was diagnosing someone who was not a patient and whom she had never even met. Yet, Trump’s mental health became a topic of discussion because Democrats and other Trump deranged people saw it as a way to get him out of the White House.
Lee didn’t just leave it at Trump, though, she included his inner circle among the mentally ill. She said it was Trump’s fault, of course, but it turns out that people don’t like to be called mentally ill on national television by a psychiatrist they have never met. So, Dershowitz wrote to his alma mater and complained.
In her complaint, Lee restated a characterization she made of Dershowitz in which she alleged “he has wholly taken on Trump’s symptoms by contagion” and referred to “shared psychosis.”
Dershowitz said at the time that Lee “attributed to me a lot more power than I think I actually have. All I did was alert the Yale authorities to her unprofessional conduct. The facts are the facts,” and said he had never met Lee.
He said he called for Yale to investigate Lee’s conduct. “I think that Yale was right to look into it and then its their decision,” he said at the time.
Yale let her go after 17 years. The department cited her lack of a formal teaching role, though she had been in her voluntary, unpaid position for 17 years. She sought reinstatement, damages from lost income, emotional distress, and harm to her reputation in her lawsuit. She justified her behavior by saying it was her “duty to warn” people about the “contagion” of Trump’s mental state. Yale questioned her judgment and ability to teach after making the statements about Trump and his inner circle.
Lee cites the Goldwater Rule in her defense, claiming it was distorted in her case. The Goldwater Rule “is a statement of ethics first issued by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 restraining psychiatrists from speculating about the mental state of public figures. The rule enjoins psychiatrists from professionally diagnosing someone they have not personally evaluated,” according to Psychology Today.
“After Yale’s first motion to dismiss was denied, the presiding judge was promptly replaced without cause or explanation,” she wrote. “Then, the case was stalled for more than eight months. Also, the argument is much like the distortion of the Goldwater rule itself — full of misleading plays on impression instead of investigating the truth.”
Lee insisted that didn’t apply to her because she isn’t a member of the organization and the rule is meant to prevent members from issuing grave public warnings.
“Trump’s presidency represented an emergency which not only allowed, but required, psychiatrists in the United States to sound the alarms,” Lee’s legal team said of her “professional responsibility to protect society.”
“Trump’s mental health was affecting the mental health” of everyone in the US, “placing the country at grave risk” and “undermining democracy itself,” according to the lawsuit of Lee, who also edited the 2017 book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”
The judge didn’t agree with Lee’s complaints after Yale let her go.
U.S. District Judge Sarah Merriam rejected Lee’s breach of contract claims Tuesday because, she wrote, there wasn’t any implied contract that Yale would automatically reappoint Lee to the faculty position, regardless of Lee’s qualifications.
“These three alleged generic expressions of ‘approval and appreciation’ or commendation are insufficient to even suggest a promise of continued appointment, much less support a contractual commitment,” Merriam wrote, referring to positive statements Lee claimed she received from Yale administrators.
Merriam wrote in her opinion that Lee’s “vague assertion” that the faculty handbook guarantees academic freedom was “plainly insufficient to show that defendant undertook a contractual commitment.”
Lee also sued the university under Connecticut’s employment law under a free speech statute, which the court also rejected because Lee wasn’t considered an employee of the university as an unpaid volunteer, according to legal interpretation.
“The question is not whether plaintiff was hired as an independent contractor or an employee,” Merriam wrote. “Rather, the question is whether plaintiff was hired at all.”
Even though Lee was not paid, she claimed she had access to employee-only resources on campus, but the court ruled that they were inefficient to establish an employer-employee relationship.
She was sent a letter from her department head after Dershowitz wrote his letter that warned her of looking self-serving in relation to her personal political belief and personal aspirations. He hit the nail on the head. Lee admitted that though she was unpaid at Yale, she used the gig as a way to earn “potentially tens of thousand s of dollars in perks and exposure” that allowed her to be a global consultant. It’s always about the money.
Funny how she’s not rushing on cable news channels now to talk about our current dazed and confused president. Isn’t she concerned that Biden appears to be in the early stages of dementia? Probably not because he’s a Democrat, right? Where are all the other Democrats who talked so much about the 25th Amendment during Trump’s administration? Oh, never mind.