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.

Selected Topics: Governance
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Foundations & Affiliated Entities; Governance

Dorf and Chicago Educational Research Foundation v. Kent State University Foundation (N.D. Ill. Nov. 17, 2017)

Order denying Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss Count I of Defendant’s Counterclaim. Plaintiffs are (1) the Chicago Board of Trade Educational Research Foundation (CBOT-ERF), (2) an Emeritus Board that created the Chicago Educational Research Foundation (CERF) as a method for retaining the successor of rights for the now defunct (CBOT-ERF), and (3) a donor representative of the Emeritus Board. Plaintiffs brought suit against Kent State University Foundation (KSUF) to surrender a $1.2 million donation from CBOT-ERF to KSUF for the purpose of funding an annual symposium on “futures and options” and supporting Kent State’s engineering program. At issue is whether the discontinuation of the annual symposium and dissolution of Kent State’s engineering program allows the donor representative to direct KSUF to surrender the gifted donation or allows the donor representative only to identify “alternative feasible directions as to use” of the donated funds in a way that satisfies CBOT-ERF’s intentions for the gift, as consistent with the equitable doctrine of cy pres. Looking to the contract language of the gift and acknowledging the early stage of the present litigation, the court found it plausible that CBOT-ERF intended for the funds to remain with KSUF and plausibly trusted KSUF to spend the $1.2 million in accordance with the purpose of the agreement. 

Foundations & Affiliated Entities; Contract Administration; Practice of Higher Education Law; Governance; Disability Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Huffman v. University Medical Center Management Corp., et al. (E.D. La. Oct. 31, 2017)

Order and Reasons denying Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a deaf individual who communicates primarily in American Sign Language, alleged that Defendants’ failure to provide her an interpreter while she was admitted to University Medical Center, a full-service hospital owned by Defendant Louisiana State University (LSU) but operated by a private entity through a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement, resulted in her receiving substandard medical treatment in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Affordable Care Act, and the American Disabilities Act. The issue before the court was whether LSU’s contract with Defendant Louisiana Children’s Medical Center (LCMC) and Defendant University Medical Center Management Corporation (UMCMC), to provide medical services that LSU was authorized to provide, qualified as a “service, program, or activity” of LSU. The court found that Plaintiff had alleged sufficient facts to proceed and in its reasoning, adopted 5th Circuit precedent and regulatory guidance that imputed liability to state entities when they have contracted with a private entity to provide services and the private entity denies a person services because of a disability.

Freedom of Information & Public Record Laws; Practice of Higher Education Law; Foundations & Affiliated Entities; Governance

Chicago Tribute v. College of Du Page (Ill. App. May 9, 2017)

Opinion affirming the lower court’s judgment, dismissing Plaintiff’s cross appeal, and remanding the case for further proceedings. The Chicago Tribune brought suit against the College of Du Page, a public institution, and the College of Du Page Foundation pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking disclosure of a federal grand jury subpoena that had been served on the Foundation. The College responded that it did not have any documents responsive to the request, and the Foundation responded that, as a private nonprofit entity, it was not subject to FOIA. The Tribune filed a Complaint and Defendants moved for summary judgment. The circuit court ruled that the Foundation was not a subsidiary public body due to its formal legal nature and the College's lack of direct control over the Foundation Board, but ultimately granted summary judgment in the Tribune’s favor after concluding that the subpoena was a public record in the Foundation's possession, was obtained while the Foundation was performing a governmental function on behalf of the College, and related directly to that governmental function. On appeal by both the Tribune and Defendants, the appeals court affirmed.  


Tishok v. Dep't of Educ. (Pa. Commw. Ct., Feb. 4, 2016)

Opinion from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania dismissing a petition to appeal the Pennsylvania Department of Education's decision to allow Wilson College to amend its Articles of Incorporation to become fully co-educational. The Court concluded that the Petitioners, alumnae of Wilson College, lacked standing because they were not directly affected by Wilson's decision to become co-educational. Neither "the ties and devotion that alumnae feel for their alma mater" nor the fact that some of the Petitioners had made charitable donations to the College, amounted to "the type of actual, direct interest necessary to confer standing."