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15 July 2004

University Agrees to Accommodate Student's Conscientious Objections to Curriculum
Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP

The University of Utah today settled a First Amendment lawsuit brought against it by Christina Axson-Flynn, formerly a student in the school's Actor Training Program. Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP represented Axson-Flynn on a pro bono basis in the civil rights case, in which she alleged Free Speech and Free Exercise Clause violations by teachers and school officials who refused to grant her request to be excused from using religiously offensive language in classroom acting exercises. Today's settlement followed a unanimous ruling in Axson-Flynn's favor by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which reversed the lower court's summary judgment order, finding that Axson-Flynn was entitled to a jury trial to determine whether the University had discriminated against her on the basis of her religious beliefs.

Axson-Flynn has said the settlement accomplishes all her goals. It includes an offer of re-enrollment, the establishment of a new policy for granting student requests for religious accommodation, and reimbursement of tuition and attorney fees. Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP lawyers David Fuller and Stephen Shapiro worked on the case.

10th Circuit's Axson-Flynn Opinion >
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