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New Cases and Developments

NACUA's Legal Resources staff summarizes current higher education cases and developments and provides the full text of selected cases to members. New cases and developments are archived here for up to 12 months.  Cases provided by Fastcase, Inc.

Dates
Immigration & International Activities

Guidance on “Enforcement of Immigration Laws to Service the National Interest” (Feb. 21, 2017)

Guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security interpreting the January 25, 2017 Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.”   The guidance directs the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to prioritize removal actions for an expanded group of undocumented immigrants, to include individuals who have been charged with or suspected of a crime.  Except to the extent that a DACA recipient may otherwise fall into priority category identified by the Department, the guidance does not impact DACA recipients as a class of individuals.  

2/22/2017
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Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration; Practice of Higher Education Law

University of Alabama v. The Suder Foundation (Tx. Ct. App. Feb. 17, 2017)

The University of Alabama (University) entered into a contract with the Suder Foundation (Foundation), a non-profit organization located in Texas.  The Foundation filed a breach of contract claim against the University in a Texas district court.  At issue was whether the University’s contacts with the State of Texas subjected the University to personal jurisdiction in Texas.  Reversing the trial court’s decision, the appellate court dismissed the action, concluding that the University did not purposefully avail itself to jurisdiction in the state because email communications, letters, teleconferences, and seven trips to Texas did not meet the required “minimum contacts” necessary to establish jurisdiction in the forum.  That the parties entered into a contract was not enough, in and of itself, to establish a basis for jurisdiction.

2/22/2017
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Disability Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Mire v. Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University et al. (E.D. La. Feb. 17, 2017)

Order granting-in-part and denying-in part Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.  Plaintiff alleged that the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University (LSU), and Defendants Desselle and Sorenson in their official capacities, failed to accommodate Plaintiff’s ADHD and Major Depressive Disorder when they suspended her from the medical residency program after a series of inadequate performance reviews.  Applying the Ex parte Young doctrine, which allows a Plaintiff to circumvent Eleventh Amendment Immunity when seeking prospective relief from an ongoing violation of federal law, the Court allowed Plaintiff’s Title I ADA claim to proceed against Defendants Desselle and Sorenson, at least to the extent that the Plaintiff sought reinstatement as an injunctive remedy.  The Court dismissed Plaintiff’s Title II claims as time-barred.

2/22/2017
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Authorizations & Regulations; Accreditation

Notice of Request for Comments on Review of Accrediting Agencies (Feb. 13, 2017)

Notice published by the U.S. Department of Education requesting comments on Review of Accrediting Agencies. The notice invites third parties to submit comments regarding the performance of accrediting agencies, as required by the Higher Education Act of 1965.  Interested persons are invited to submit comments by March 12, 2017.

2/22/2017
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Tenure; Faculty & Staff

Wander, et al. v. St. John’s University (N.Y. App. Div. Feb. 15, 2017)

Plaintiffs Wander and Manda were tenured professors at St. John’s University (SJU).  SJU suspended Plaintiffs with pay while they investigated allegations that Plaintiffs had misrepresented information on their tenure and promotion applications.  After concluding that Plaintiffs had committed “academic fraud” by “knowingly providing false information to investigators,” the President converted their suspensions to suspensions without pay.  Plaintiffs sued, alleging that SJU’s actions were arbitrary and capricious, and the Supreme Court agreed.  The Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division overturned the decision, concluding that academic fraud was a “sound basis in reason [to convert the suspensions to suspensions without pay], and the determination was taken in regard to the facts.”

2/17/2017
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Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Retaliation; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Jane Doe v. University of Kansas (D. Kan., Feb. 16, 2017)

Order granting-in-part and denying-in-part Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.  Plaintiff alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a member of the University of Kansas (KU) football team, that her rowing coach subjected to relentless harassment about her weight and body shape, and that her rowing coach retaliated against her for reporting the assault by refusing to allow her to attend a winter training event.  Adopting and incorporating by reference the rational set forth in the Memorandum and Order in Tackett v. Univ. of Kansas, the Court found that the Plaintiff failed to allege a plausible Simpson claim against the University.  However, the Court allowed Plaintiff’s deliberate indifference and retaliation claims to proceed.

2/17/2017
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Practice of Higher Education Law; Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration

Hawthorne-Burdine v. Oakland Univ. et al. (E.D. Mich., Feb. 14, 2017)

Order granting Oakland University’s Motion to Dismiss and/or for Summary Judgment. This case arose out of an employment dispute between the Plaintiff and Oakland University.  In 2015, prior to filing this lawsuit, Plaintiff fully and finally litigated claims related to the employment dispute.  In the instant case, Plaintiff brought 21 additional state and federal claims against the defendant, all of which arose from the same employment dispute that was the subject of the 2015 litigation.  The Court dismissed the federal claims under the doctrine of res judicata, reasoning that the Plaintiff was foreclosed from brining any claims that should have been raised in the earlier lawsuit.  The Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims.

2/16/2017
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First Amendment & Free Speech; Retaliation; Sex Discrimination; Faculty & Staff; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Tenure; Constitutional Issues

Kazar v. Slippery Rock Univ. of Pa. (3rd Cir., Feb, 14, 2017)

Plaintiff-Appellant, a former professor at Slippery Rock University (SRU), alleged that SRU engaged in gender-based employment discrimination and retaliated against her for participating in LGBT advocacy programs after SRU declined to renew her tenure-track position as an Assistant Professor of Geography, Geology, and Environment.  On Plaintiff’s First Amendment and retaliation claims, the Court found that Plaintiff failed to show the requisite temporal proximity or pattern of antagonism necessary to establish a nexus between her advocacy work the University’s decision not to renew her appointment, especially since she failed to complete her doctorate, which was a requirement for the position. The Court found no evidence that SRU’s Ph.D. requirement was pretext for sex discrimination. 

2/16/2017
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