Feifei Fan, University of Nevada, Reno mechanical engineering professor, recently published a website containing all of her court case information and the amended complaint in her lawsuit against the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education on behalf of the university.
The university moved to dismiss the complaint on Oct. 12, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(5), which is “insufficient service of process.” This was the same day that student protestors crashed the business building groundbreaking event at the university.
“Because Fan cannot show good cause for failing to timely and effectively serve process on UNR, the Court should dismiss this action under Rule 4(m),” the motion stated.
According to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure’s Rule 4(m), “Time Limit for Service,” if a defendant is not served within 90 days after the complaint is filed, the court must dismiss the action without prejudice against that defendant.
In the background section of the document, the university outlines what deadlines they claimed Fan and her attorney, Ryan Cann, missed for amended complaints and failed court filings. The university explains they are motioning to dismiss the case due to the plaintiff’s failure to provide them with a waiver of service and never properly serving them in this case.
Fan’s attorney is a patent attorney, who was publicly reprimanded by the State Bar of Nevada on Dec. 16, 2021. Cann failed to help his clients, who already paid 50 percent of the flat fee for his representation, file their patent applications in a timely manner. The clients terminated his representation, and Cann failed to deposit the return of the fee into a client trust account.
In October 2019, Cann also received a letter of reprimand for more missed deadlines for a patent application and miscommunication with his client.
In the amended complaint submitted on May 18, which Cann and Fan originally missed the deadline for, a twelfth count was added against the university, titled “Tortious-Interference of Contract.”
Under this charge, Fan claims her employment at the university was based under a contract of compliance with UNR’s Employee Code, Conduct Policy, Code of Conduct, Harassment Policy, Whistleblowing Policy, Non-Retaliation Policy and Discrimination Policy.
“UNR was bound to the terms of these contracts and was fully aware of the terms of the contract because UNR was the drafter of the contract,” the document says. “UNR took intentional acts to disrupt the contract when UNR subjected Fan to discrimination on the basis of her race, color, sex, national origin, citizenship status, and visa status, as set forth in the factual allegations above, including sex slavery, forced labor, deterrence, retaliation, defamation, hostile environment, and deliberate indifference.”
These contracts also allegedly forbade sexual acts between students and faculty or between tenure-track faculty and tenure committee members who evaluate and vote on a person’s grant of tenure or not. To prevent conflicts of interest, the contract allegedly says that no individual should participate in decisions involving a person with who they’ve had sexual acts with.
“Jiang, as Fan’s academic advisor, mentor, and tenure committee member, sexually slaved, raped, deterred, and retaliated against Fan, disrupting the contract between UNR and Fan and causing injuries to Fan,” the document said.
Fan’s complaint also claims that foreign student employees received no training or explanation that qualified them to make complaints about the university’s Title IX misconduct.
“Being aware of the vulnerabilities of foreign employees, UNR intentionally employed procedures and investigation processes stacked against foreign employees to deter any disclosures on its hostile environment,” the complaint said.
Fan then claims that these were “intentional acts to disrupt the contract between UNR and Fan by allowing Jiang’s abuse and the toxic culture within its ME department to flourish.”
The complaint also says that the university took no effective action against Jiang and that the university allegedly “dragged” the investigation of another mechanical engineering professor Yanyao Jiang “with no visible progress” which allegedly violated the terms of Fan’s contract leaving her “vulnerable to retaliation.”
Fan claims to have suffered physical, mental, psychological, emotional, reputational, professional and monetary harm as a result of this alleged contractual violation.
In her prayer for relief, Fan requests:
- a declaratory judgment that the university policies, practices and procedures challenged herein are illegal and in violation of the plaintiff’s rights
- an permanent injunction against the university and all of its associates from engaging in further unlawful practices, policies, customs and usages as set forth herein
- A permanent injunction requiring external audits of the university’s compliance with Title IX and Title VI
- an order requiring the university to initiate an independent investigation of its past deviation from Title IX and Title VI responsibilities within its mechanical engineering department
- an award of damages to Fan, with an amount of no less than $20,000,000
- an award of the lawsuit’s costs and expenses, including the attorney’s fees
- an award of prejudgment and postjudgment interest available under law
- other reliefs the court may establish
The dismissal by NSHE said that the case has been “pending” for over nine months and still “Fan failed to properly serve UNR.”
Fan actively posts updates on this website about her separate civil suit against Jiang. In the private lawsuit, there was recently a final motion for attorney fees for the defendant totaling $84,462.21, which Fan and Cann are jointly liable for.
As for other written updates on this website, Fan posted regards towards the students protesting on her behalf on Oct. 20.
“I want to express my gratitude to all of you for your support. Your support means a lot to me!” she wrote. “Due to my ongoing lawsuit, I cannot participate in recent inspiring events aimed at enhancing UNR’s campus. I WISH I COULD. I genuinely feel your strength and hear your voices. I stand in solidarity with all of you, both in the present and the future.
Students at the university also have been active on social media for Fan’s cause, with posts on the anonymous posting app YikYak and the creation of the Instagram account @standwithfeifei which has already reached over 800 followers.
Within the Nevada page on YikYak, there have been screenshots and links to the original court document, protest announcements, images from the protest and other information related to this case.
There is also an active petition to reform the sexual assault and sexual harrassment policies at the university with 816 signatures currently.
To read about the Associated Students of the University of Nevada Reno’s original public comment regarding the case with Fan, click here.
Jaedyn Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.