Universities in MS, LA, and Texas sell research to BP – and we wonder "why Johnny can't read"

“Without academic integrity, there can be no trust or reliance on the effectiveness, accuracy, or value

of a University’s teaching, learning, research, or public service activities.”

Foreign oil giant BP is on a spending spree, buying Gulf Coast scientists for its private contractor army. Scientists from Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University and Texas A&M have “signed contracts with BP to work on their behalf in the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) process” that determines how much ecological damage the Gulf of Mexico region is suffering from BP’s toxic black tide. The contract, the Mobile Press-Register has learned, “prohibits the scientists from publishing their research, sharing it with other scientists or speaking about the data that they collect for at least the next three years.”

I’d already picked up the Think Progress post hanging on the Editilla’s awesome new Ladder and was ready to call out Mississippi State when I ran across a Clarion Ledger story suggesting Mississippi’s Commissioner of Higher Education may have set the stage for this breech of academic integrity and involved more than just MSU:

University researchers will spend the months ahead calculating the economic toll of the BP PLC oil spill on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast communities and the state….In May, Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds called on the four research universities that make up the Mississippi Research Consortium to form a Deepwater Horizon Response Team to coordinate university efforts.

According to Think Progress, “Bob Shipp, head of marine sciences at the University of South Alabama — whose entire department BP wished to hire — refused to sign over their integrity to the corporate criminal” Continue reading “Universities in MS, LA, and Texas sell research to BP – and we wonder "why Johnny can't read"”

State Farm proves dispute of material fact for the Rigsbys but slabs competence of MSU faculty

Do the Rigsbys send a thank you note? I doubt Mississippi State University will.  After being blown away (no pun intended) by the motions State Farm filed in the Rigsby qui tam, I had to double check the meaning of “material fact” but found no change – to preclude summary judgment, the dispute about a material fact must also be “genuine” such that a reasonable jury could find in favor of the non-moving party.

On the surface, State Farm’s motions  to exclude all testimony of every expert witness for the Rigsbys looked like the Farm’s usual “gut the case” strategy – not even MSU’s Sinno and Fitzpatrick are good enough for the Farm.

The Rigsbys proffer the expert testimony of Dr. Sinno, an engineer, in a misguided attempt to create a genuine question of material fact in response to State Farm’s dispositive motions. Yet Dr. Sinno’s opinion is incapable of doing so because it is irrelevant, inadmissible, and immaterial. “Rule 56 states that a court may consider only admissible evidence in ruling on a summary judgment motion…Thus, to screen out incompetent summary judgment evidence, the Court must determine the admissibility of the expert’s opinion “before reaching the question whether a fact issue exists.

The Rigsbys proffer the expert testimony of Dr. Fitzpatrick, a meteorologist, in a misguided attempt to create a genuine question of material fact in response to State Farm’s dispositive motions.  Yet Dr. Fitzpatrick’s opinion is incapable of doing so because it is irrelevant, inadmissible, and immaterial…Thus, to screen out incompetent summary judgment evidence, the Court must determine the admissibility of the expert’s opinion “before reaching the question whether a fact issue exists.

These are cookie cutter motions – each virtually identical with the personalize slab inserted – but no smart cookie came up with this Eddie-Haskell-strategy of insulting Mississippi State University’s faculty Continue reading “State Farm proves dispute of material fact for the Rigsbys but slabs competence of MSU faculty”