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Lawsuit dropped in former MU medical school dean’s discrimination claims

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ABC 17 News

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ) -

A judge dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday filed five years ago by a former assistant dean at the University of Missouri's medical school.

Judge Brouck Jacobs dismissed Dr. Rachel Brown's lawsuit on Wednesday. Her lawyers asked for voluntary dismissal of the case on Feb. 3, according to online court records.

Brown sued the medical school for age and racial discrimination in 2017. Brown, claimed former medical school Dr. Patrice Delafontaine forced her out of her position as Associate Dean for Student Development. She said the school demoted her and ultimately fired her when she questioned the school's approach to recruiting minority students to the school. The school replaced Brown, who is white, with Dr. Laine Young-Walker, a younger Black woman, a role Brown claimed she was not ready to hold at the time.

Online court records do not say if a settlement had been reached in the case. Paul Gardner, a lawyer for Brown, asked the court to drop the racial discrimination claim of the lawsuit on Jan. 14. Gardner then asked for the remaining two claims, on age discrimination and a violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act, to be dismissed on Feb. 3. Judge Jacobs agreed to the dismissal on Wednesday.

University spokesman Christian Basi declined to comment on the resolution. Gardner did not return a request for comment on Thursday.

Students questioned the school's handling of Brown's position in 2016. Brown claimed she wanted the school to hire consultants to review its approach to recruiting a more diverse medical school student body. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education cited the school's diversity management in 2016. Brown claimed Delafontaine ignored many of her suggestions, and other medical school faculty "aggressively" criticized her work. Brown claimed that following her ouster, 40 other white women over the age of 40 were let go at the school of medicine.

Brown amended her lawsuit in 2019 to claim that medical school officials used private channels to discuss the work in violation of the state's open records law.

Delafontaine left MU in 2019 to become the medical school dean at Tulane University.

Lucas Geisler

Lucas Geisler anchors the 5 p.m. show for ABC 17 News and reports on the latest news around mid-Missouri at 9 and 10 p.m.

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