Mehler denied request for preliminary injunction

Appeal pending plaintiff's decision

Timeline of events of the Mehler case
Timeline of events. Mehler’s movements are in red, Ferris’ in yellow and court decision in green. Noah Kurkjian | News Editor

After a nearly six and a half-hour hearing, with six witnesses called and 11 new pieces of evidence introduced, history professor Dr. Barry Mehler’s request for preliminary injunction was denied.

The trial, which started just before 10 a.m. on Monday, March 7, ended at 4:29 p.m, brought six witnesses to the stand, including Dr. Tracey Ward, Dr. Mehler, Dr. Qian Ding, Ferris administrator Dorothy Stakley, Assistant Dean Trinidy Williams, and Provost Robert Fleischman. 

In her decision, Judge Beckering stated that while parts of the video regarding COVID-19 were a matter of public concern, the swearing was not. Alongside this, Judge Beckering explained that the position of the university outweighed Dr. Mehler’s right to say whatever he wants in the classroom.

Mehler’s lawyers filed suit on Jan. 25 with two requests, alleging that the suspension was a violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The first request filed was a temporary restraining order, this would have disallowed the university from barring Mehler from being on campus, accessing his office, and contacting current and former faculty and staff. This was denied by Judge Beckering on Jan. 26.

The second was for the injunction, which, if granted, would have reinstated Mehler’s teaching privileges and allowed him access to his various Ferris-bound online accounts.

Mehler was represented by Attorneys Matthew Hoffer and Zachary Young.

“It’s a pretty well-accepted concept that speech does not become unprotected speech when you use some curse words,”  Hoffer said.

Ferris’ legal team of Robert Vercruysse, Stephanie Romeo, and Anne-Marie Vercruysse Welch disagreed.

“A college professor has no right to call his students and administrators sexually harassing, discriminatory or profane terms to excite them about his class. It is simply wrong,” Robert Vercruysse, an attorney for Ferris said.

Mehler was put on paid leave in January pending investigation after his profane semester introduction video or the premiere of this season of “More Bad News” went viral, garnering over half a million views on YouTube and clips receiving more than 12 million views on TikTok.

Mehler has been utilizing “The Show” as his method of teaching for most of his classes for nearly 30 years.

“There are two things we generally do in college; one is learning, and the other is thinking. My courses all focus on the idea of thinking… and you only think in the present moment or in the presence of confusion… it forces them to think,” Mehler said in an interview with WZZM 13.

Mehler elected not to immediately file for an appeal pending conversation with his counsel.

Marissa Russell contributed to the reporting of this story.