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University of Virginia property seizure follows contract dispute

A professor with the university of Virginia claims his rights were violated in a search and seizure of his home by campus police that followed an employment dispute with the university. The search warrant affidavit claimed that the professor was using University assets to conduct a private business, yet an attorney for the professor states that many of the items seized during the search held confidential information that was relevant to a contract dispute.

In response, the professor filed a civil suit seeking $100,000 in damages from the university and the return of all property, which includes several hundred files and computer drives. Meanwhile, campus police in possession of this material are asking for help from other law enforcement agencies in processing it.

The university's case against the professor for profiting from his position and the resources afforded to it may rest on the processing of seized materials. However, an attorney for the professor expressed doubt about this being the sole reason for the search. Whether or not a judge decides to award the plaintiff damages, the university may be found in violation of criminal procedure. The professor has not been charged with a crime and is still listed as a university employee.

Employment contracts are explicit statements of each party's rights and responsibilities. When one party feels the other has broken the agreement, as the university may have done in this case, unnecessary steps to uncover any wrongdoing may occur. This can quickly lead to overreaching and the party itself breaking the contract. During such disputes, each party may benefit from the assistance of an attorney with experience handling contract disputes.

Source: The Daily Progress, "Professor under criminal investigation sues UVa," K. Burnell Evans, Feb. 19, 2013

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