Former LSU deputy director files suit against the university

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The former deputy of the LSU Hurricane Center is suing the university.  Dr. Ivor Van Heerden was outspoken and critical about levee failures after Hurricane Katrina.  Van Heerden says those comments led to the university dismissing him.

A lawsuit filed against LSU accuses the university of conspiring to discredit, disgrace, and ultimately to dismiss Van Heerden. According to the suit, he was one of LSU's top researchers specializing in the effects of hurricane surges.  Van Heerden blames the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for the levee failures after Katrina.

Van Heerden claims LSU unfairly tried to keep him quiet about his findings because the school wanted to keep federal funds flowing.

"So ultimately, the only thing left for them to do was terminate me and what's so hard for me is I don't know why," said Van Heerden.

Van Heerden's attorney Jill Craft says she knows exactly why they're getting rid of him.

"One of the things that LSU did after he started speaking out about the levee's failure and the disaster that was Katrina, they labeled him as crazy," said Craft.  "There were public statements issued about him speaking out against his expertise that he doesn't know what he's talking about and things of that nature."

The lawsuit reads in part, "...that LSU engaged in illegal reprisal directed at petitioner on account of petitioner's providing testimony and evidence..."

LSU Chancellor Michael Martian issued this statement: "Although the decision not to renew Ivor Van Heerden's contract was made before I came to LSU, I have carefully reviewed the process that led to that decision and am confident that the process was handled appropriately..."

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