Judge Orders U. of Louisville Nursing Student Reinstated

August 03, 2009

A federal judge has ordered the University of Louisville to permit a nursing student who had been expelled for writing blog posts about her patients, gun rights, religion, and other issues to re-enroll.

In an order issued on Monday, Judge Charles R. Simpson III of the U.S. District Court in Louisville ruled that the student, Nina Yoder, could register for classes at the university as soon as she would like.

The university expelled Ms. Yoder in February, saying she had violated the nursing school's honor code by identifying herself as a student in "Internet postings regarding patient activities." Ms. Yoder appealed the expulsion, but the appeal was denied. She then sued the university for reinstatement, alleging that it had violated her free-speech and due-process rights.

The judge sided with Ms. Yoder, saying the school had violated her contractual agreement, but he did not deal with her free-speech or due-process complaints.

In an interview on Monday, Ms. Yoder's lawyer, Daniel J. Canon, said his client planned to go back to the university to complete her degree.

"She was elated," he said of Ms. Yoder. "This is what she's wanted since the very beginning."

Ms. Yoder, who is now working for the U.S. Census Bureau, was unavailable for comment.

According to copies of posts on the social-networking site that were attached to her lawsuit, Ms. Yoder had shared her personal views about several unidentified patients. In one post, she discussed a patient who attempted suicide, saying the patient was "sucking up some valuable nurse's aide time around the clock, so they can sit there and listen to some more of her 'boohoo poor me.'" In another post, she expressed anti-abortion beliefs. "We get Virgin Marys by the bundle at the clinic each day," she wrote. "Then they go and surgically expel the unwanted fetus out of their body, unaware that it may be the next Jesus they're dumping into the biohazard bin."

In an e-mail statement to The Chronicle, a university spokesman, Mark R. Hebert, said the university's lawyers and administrators were reviewing the court's decision "to determine what our next steps might be."