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.

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Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration; Practice of Higher Education Law; Due Process; Constitutional Issues

Perkins v. University of Nebraska, et al. (D. Neb. Nov. 13, 2017)

Amended Memorandum and Order granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a University of Nebraska (UN) student, alleged that UN deprived him of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment when he was banned from campus following a student altercation that led to Title IX charges against Plaintiff. The court found that Plaintiff could not seek declaratory prospective relief because the deprivations he alleged were moot due to changes in UN’s trespass procedures and appeal process, which allowed Plaintiff’s ban to be lifted while he appealed either in-person or in a telephonic hearing. The court further found that sovereign immunity protected Defendants in their official capacity and qualified immunity protected Defendants in their personal capacity, namely because the rights Plaintiff sought to vindicate were not clearly established and were not clearly deprived from him. The court did not exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remainder of Plaintiff’s state law claims. 

Contract Administration; Practice of Higher Education Law; Due Process; Constitutional Issues

McKeny v. Ohio University (Oh. Ct. App. Nov. 16, 2017)

Decision affirming summary judgment in favor of the Defendant-Appellee. Plaintiff, a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education, alleged that Ohio University (OU) breached a contract and deprived Plaintiff of due process when OU declined to award him tenure for lack of sustained scholarship.  The court found that the Plaintiff failed to allege a breach, since the university's tenure policy allowed for reviewers to make subjective determinations about applicants' scholarship, and since Plaintiff was evaluated on this standard, without there being any evidence that the decision was arbitrary, capricious, or made in bad faith. The court also concluded that Appellant failed to provide sufficient evidence of any due process violation. 

Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration; Constitutional Issues; Practice of Higher Education Law

Fordan, et al. v. San Francisco State University, et al. (N.D. Cal. November 9, 2017)

Order granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiffs, a married couple, brought section 1983 claims against San Francisco State University (SFSU) and SFSU faculty for allegedly violating their civil rights under California law, the Fifth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution after the wife enrolled in a master’s program at SFSU following purported faculty assurances that she would finish the program in two to three years. In the four years in which she was enrolled, she did not graduate, purportedly because her thesis supervisor and SFSU faculty placed her in a seven-year program. The court found that Plaintiffs’ claims were barred by claim preclusion due to their prior state action that asserted identical claims against the same parties and resulted in a final judgment on the merits. The court further provided that Plaintiffs’ claims against SFSU fail because SFSU is not a “person” within the meaning of section 1983 and the President of SFSU could not be held liable under a respondeat superior theory because she was not personally involved in the matter, nor did she breach a duty that was the proximate cause of Plaintiffs’ injuries. 

Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration; Practice of Higher Education Law

Callahan v. Gateway Community College (D. Conn. Nov. 6, 2017)

Order Dismissing Complaint Without Prejudice. Plaintiff, a former employee of Gateway Community College (GCC) and proceeding pro se, alleged that GCC discriminated and retaliated against her when GCC terminated her employment. The court found that Plaintiff’s complaint failed to allege facts that would give Defendant fair notice to defend against the claims. 

Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration; Practice of Higher Education Law

University of Louisville, et al. v. Danziger, et al. (W.D. Ky. Nov. 2, 2017)

Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss. Respondent is the widow of Dr. Danziger, the owner of an individual retirement account with $500,000 of funds initially intended as a gift to Petitioner, the University of Louisville, to fund scholarships within the University’s medical school. Respondent revoked the gift following her husband’s death because she did not believe the Charitable Gift Agreement between the parties captured his intent. The sole question before the court was whether the court had personal jurisdiction over Respondent to hear the case. The court found that Respondent’s activities—contacting the Office of Advancement, discussing Dr. Danziger’s desire to make a donation, and otherwise communicating with the University of Louisville regarding the donation—were not within the reach of Kentucky’s long-arm statute and exercising such authority would offend Respondent’s due process rights.

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.

Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration; Practice of Higher Education Law; Race and National Origin Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Terrill v. Limestone College and Griffin (D.S.C. Oct. 31, 2017)

Order granting Defendants’ partial Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff is an African American male employee of Limestone College who first alleged racial discrimination and retaliation under state law in Terrill I. Following Plaintiff’s stipulation of dismissal with prejudice in Terrill I, Plaintiff alleged those same claims under section 1981 of federal law and argued that the claims were not precluded by res judicata. The court affirmed the magistrate judge’s finding that the claims brought in Terrill II arose out of the same transaction or occurrence as Terrill I and that Plaintiff’s stipulation of dismissal in Terrill I was a final adjudication. 

Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration; Practice of Higher Education Law

Newman v. University of Dayton, et al. (S.D. Ohio Oct. 31, 2017)

Entry and Order granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton, alleged among many claims, that the University retaliated against him in violation of Title VII by terminating and banning him from campus, purportedly for filing an internal discrimination and harassment complaint against an African-American female student. Defendants argued that Plaintiff was precluded by judicial estoppel from bringing his claims because he did not disclose the University as an employer in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Petition. The court found that judicial estoppel was applicable because Plaintiff took a contrary position under oath in his bankruptcy proceedings to the one presently supporting his claims—e.g., that he was employed and received income from the University—and Plaintiff’s contrary position was not mistakenly or inadvertently made.