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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Official Blames College for His Breakdowns

CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) - A former vice chancellor claims officials at the University of Missouri - St. Louis drove him to "a complete nervous breakdown" and forced him to resign.

Reinhard Schuster sued The Curators of the University of Missouri, in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

Schuster was hired at UM-St. Louis as director of the physical plant in 1991 and rose to Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs before he resigned in July 2007.

Issues began, Schuster says in the complaint, when former baseball coach Jim Brady filed an age-discrimination lawsuit against the school and Schuster in 2004.

Brady won the case and was awarded $2 million.

Schuster claims the school owed him proper legal defense in that lawsuit.

He says the school failed to advise him of its conflict of interest in having the same attorneys represent all the defendants in the case; failed to advise him of his right to seek separate legal representation; failed to appoint outside counsel to represent him; and failed to appoint competent attorneys to defend him.

"(H)ad the attorneys employed by the University used proper skill and care in connection with the matter referenced hereinabove, the results of the Brady lawsuit would have been different as far as Reinhard Schuster is concerned and he would not have sustained the damages and injuries he sustained," the complaint states.

After the Brady verdict, Schuster claims, the university inflicted emotional distress on him by not timely informing him whether it would pay the damages on his behalf; made derogatory statements about him to his peers; reduced his authority; denied him medical coverage while he was hospitalized for severe depression; singled him out for a five-year review, to which none of his peers were subjected.

Schuster also claims the university weakened its chances of winning an appeal of the Brady verdict by going against the advice of its general council by beginning to change Brady's employment status before the verdict in trial court.

"As a direct and proximate results of the negligence and the intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress set forth hereinabove, plaintiff Reinhard Schuster was admitted to St. Luke's Hospital and, subsequently, to St. John's Mercy Hospital in December 2006 and was diagnosed as having suffered a complete 'nervous breakdown,'" the complaint states.

Schuster says the university demanded his resignation in April 2007, reinstated him in September 2007 at the same pay grade but reduced his title to Vice-Chancellor of Administrative Services, deprived him of the use of his company vehicle and fired him on two days notice in July 2008.

"On or about July 23, 2008, after being given the 48-hour notice of termination, under duress and as a result of the negligence and/or the intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress by the University, Reinhard Schuster was admitted to the hospital for another severe nervous breakdown and on that same date, resigned from the University," the complaint states.

Schuster seeks reinstatement as Vice-Chancellor of Administrative Services and an injunction prohibiting the college from threatening him with termination.

He also seeks actual and punitive for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and wrongful and constructive discharge. His wife seeks damages for loss of consortium.

The Schusters are represented by John E. Toma Jr. of Gulf Breeze, Fla.

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