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NM Supreme Court Ends Long-Running Academic Dispute


— November 23, 2003

The AP reports here (via kobtv.com):

The state Supreme Court has ruled that a state district court was right to dismiss a lawsuit filed by one anthropologist against another.

The court Friday ruled in favor of Peter Furst, a Santa Fe area retiree who formerly headed the anthropology department at the State University of New York at Albany.

Furst was sued for defamation of character and other claims by Jay Courtney Fikes, who teaches anthropology at a university in Istanbul.

Their long-standing dispute arose from their observations of the religious practices of the Huichol Indian community in northern Mexico.

Fikes sued Furst in 1996, saying Furst had tried to sabotage his reputation. He alleged Furst defamed him and illegally interfered with his book contract. A state district court granted summary judgment in favor of Furst in 1998.

In a limited victory for Fikes, the state Court of Appeals in January reversed part of the district court�s order, reviving some claims of defamation.

But the high court affirmed the district court�s order.

The court’s opinion begins: “This case concerns a personal feud that began in the 1980s. Plaintiff and Defendant are both professors holding doctorate degrees. Each steadfastly believes that the other is out to destroy his reputation and career. After much contention between the two, Plaintiff brought this defamation action.” (via Overlawyered.com)


The AP reports here (via kobtv.com):

The state Supreme Court has ruled that a state district court was right to dismiss a lawsuit filed by one anthropologist against another.

The court Friday ruled in favor of Peter Furst, a Santa Fe area retiree who formerly headed the anthropology department at the State University of New York at Albany.

Furst was sued for defamation of character and other claims by Jay Courtney Fikes, who teaches anthropology at a university in Istanbul.

Their long-standing dispute arose from their observations of the religious practices of the Huichol Indian community in northern Mexico.

Fikes sued Furst in 1996, saying Furst had tried to sabotage his reputation. He alleged Furst defamed him and illegally interfered with his book contract. A state district court granted summary judgment in favor of Furst in 1998.

In a limited victory for Fikes, the state Court of Appeals in January reversed part of the district court�s order, reviving some claims of defamation.

But the high court affirmed the district court�s order.

The court’s opinion begins: “This case concerns a personal feud that began in the 1980s. Plaintiff and Defendant are both professors holding doctorate degrees. Each steadfastly believes that the other is out to destroy his reputation and career. After much contention between the two, Plaintiff brought this defamation action.” (via Overlawyered.com)

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