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. 

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.

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. 

Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration; Retaliation; Practice of Higher Education Law; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Featherstone v. Cornell University (N.D. N.Y. October 19, 2017)

Decision and Order dismissing Plaintiff’s Complaint. Plaintiff, a former employee of Cornell University, brought claims against Defendant under Title VII for retaliation, hostile work environment, and discrimination, and under the Equal Pay Act for wage discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiff brought similar claims under analogous New York statutes in a previously litigated action in State court. The court found that the Doctrine of Collateral Estoppel barred Plaintiff’s claims in federal court because the necessary elements of Plaintiff’s claims were identical to the issues decided in the prior State court action and in that case, Plaintiff had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issues. 

Practice of Higher Education Law; Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration; Patents; Intellectual Property

Regents of the University of Minnesota v. Gilead Sciences, Inc. (D. Minn. October 20, 2017)

Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Defendant’s Motion to Transfer Venue. Plaintiff, Regents of the University of Minnesota (UM), alleged that Defendant, a Delaware corporation, infringed its patent rights by selling over 1 billion dollars of medicine containing the drug sofosbuvir without obtaining a license from UM.  Applying the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in TC Heartland, which impacted venue in patent cases, and the subsequent Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Cray, both of which were issued after UM filed the initial action, the court granted Defendant’s Motion to Transfer Venue, because the Defendant did not reside or have a regular and established physical place of business in the district, as required under TC Heartland and Cray