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03/05/2013 12:34 pm ET Updated Mar 05, 2013

James Franco Says Lawsuit Filed By NYU Professor Should Be Tossed

Actor James Franco fired back at his former professor Jose Angel Santana's defamation lawsuit in papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, the New York Daily News reports.

Santana initially filed a suit against New York University in 2011 claiming the school fired him for not creating a "Franco-friendly environment" after he gave Franco a "D" in his New York University directing class.

When reporters later asked Franco, 34, a habitual college student, whether he believed Santana was indeed terminated for giving the actor a D, Franco said no. It was instead because Santana's a "bad teacher," the actor said.

In a separate defamation lawsuit filed in September 2012, Santana says that remark was defamation.

In February, Santana's lawyers requested a default judgement claiming Franco failed to respond to the suit, according to The Hollywood Reporter. However, TMZ reports, Santana's legal team didn't properly serve Franco with the suit, delivering it to an address in California where Franco did not live. Franco's court filings said Santana's attorneys "failed at every one of the steps required by the law," according to the Daily News.

As TMZ noted, Franco's second argument for tossing the suit is that his opinion about his teacher is free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution.

NYU, also a defendant in Santana's defamation lawsuit, asked in 2012 for the case to be dismissed since Franco's comments were only opinion, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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