New Memo Filed with Court in Doctor’s Lawsuit Against Mayo Clinic

Mar 27, 2024 | Press Release

New Memo Filed with Court in Doctor’s Lawsuit Against Mayo Clinic

Memo Urges Court to Deny Mayo’s Partial Motion to Dismiss

PRINCETON, NJ – The Academic Freedom Alliance today announced a new memorandum filed with the District Court in the state of Minnesota in Dr. Michael Joyner’s lawsuit against the Mayo Clinic. The memorandum of law filed by Dr. Joyner’s legal team came in response to the defense’s partial motion to dismiss claims that the Mayo Clinic violated its contractual obligations to Dr. Joyner. The hearing on the partial motion to dismiss will take place on April 8th. 

Filed in November 2023 with financial support from the AFA, Dr. Joyner’s lawsuit against the Mayo Clinic College, its president and CEO, and its board chair is part of a dispute related to comments he made to press about sex-specific differences in sports performance and about the use of convalescent plasma in the treatment of COVID-19. 

As this week’s memorandum explains, “Mayo’s Academic Freedom policy expressly protects faculty speech related to research and scholarship, and promises that Mayo will not retaliate if a faculty member’s scholarly opinions or conclusions conflict with those of the institution. Mayo broke this promise to Dr. Joyner. After Dr. Joyner expressed scholarly opinions and conclusions that conflicted with institutional views, Mayo punished him with a suspension, lost pay, and an ongoing gag order. Mayo also violated its policy by attempting to prevent Dr. Joyner from speaking about his research at academic conferences, even though giving such presentations is a required part of his academic appointment as a Clinician Investigator.”

The memorandum continues, “Among other breaches of the Academic Freedom Policy, Mayo also imposed a gag order on any discussion of testosterone and human performance—which is a primary focus of Dr. Joyner’s research and expertise. … Yet in its attempt to read the academic freedom policy out of existence, Mayo’s motion to dismiss simply ignores the fact that speaking at academic conferences and freely publishing and discussing his research are specific requirements of Dr. Joyner’s academic appointment. … For all of these reasons, Defendants’ Partial Motion to Dismiss should be denied.”

Additional Resources:
  • The full memorandum of law filed this week
  • Joyner’s original lawsuit against the Mayo Clinic filed in November, and the AFA’s statement
  • The AFA’s June letter to the Mayo Clinic in support of Joyner at the outset of the controversy
The Academic Freedom Alliance is a diverse alliance of college and university faculty members who are dedicated to upholding the principles of academic freedom and professorial free speech. These principles are central to the mission of our institutions of higher education for the pursuit of truth and knowledge. The AFA is committed to defending universal principles of academic freedom and will come to the assistance of professors regardless of their individual views. As always, the AFA is not concerned with the substance or merits of a professor’s ideas but with the principle that universities should be places that tolerate controversial ideas and allow free inquiry and debate, not public opinion or political pressure, to separate error from truth.

Learn More About the Academic Freedom Alliance

No one, at any academic institution, should fear suppression or retaliation for speaking out publicly in any form. We encourage you to join the movement in supporting the flourishing of intellectual life and the pursuit of knowledge and truth at institutions of higher learning.