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Lawyers argue which court should hear lawsuit against Hamline University concerning fired instructor, Prophet Muhammad controversy

Dr. Erika López Prater filed the lawsuit against the school in federal court on Jan. 17, 2023, but on Thursday started the process to move it to state court.

ST PAUL, Minn. — In a procedural move, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit without prejudice Thursday filed by a former Hamline University adjunct professor after she was fired for showing an artistic depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, so that the case could be re-filed in state court.

Dr. Erika López Prater filed a religious discrimination and defamation lawsuit against the school last month, claiming the school "caused significant damage" to her, including "significant emotional distress due to her mistreatment by Hamline."

Dr. López Prater was teaching a global art history class at Hamline University when she showed the depictions during a lecture on Oct. 6, 2022. Dr. Erika López Prater claimed she took precautions before showing her online class, but a complaint was filed by a student with university administrators and she was later let go from her position.

The lawsuit was filed against the school on Jan. 17, 2023, but on Thursday, Dr. López Prater requested "dismissal without prejudice," according to court documents, which means there have been no rulings on the merits of the case.

Following Dr. López Prater's firing, Hamline University was at the center of the academic freedom debate. Leaders of CAIR commended the university for their actions, while a number of organizations and academics defended Dr. López Prater.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to more accurately reflect the context around the procedural moves in this case.

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