LSU researcher had claimed he was let go because of fears his criticism of the federal gov't could cost funding
Officials say LSU and a state agency paid former coastal researcher Ivor van Heerden $435,000 to settle court claims that his LSU career was destroyed because he alleged engineering mistakes allowed New Orleans to flood during Hurricane Katrina.
Michael DiResto, assistant commissioner for policy and communications in the Louisiana Division of Administration, told The Advocate, the payment was provided by the Office of Risk Management.
In his three-year-old lawsuit in Baton Rouge federal court, van Heerden alleged that some university officials systematically ended his ability to perform hurricane research and eventually refused to renew his contract because they feared he would cost the school federal funds.
In telephone interviews, van Heerden and his attorney, Jill L. Craft, declined to discuss the specific amount of the settlement check, but termed it "a good win."
He told the newspaper "This wasn't about money. It was really about academic freedom."
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)