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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Student Organizations; Practice of Higher Education Law; Students; Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration

UWM Student Association, et al. v. Lovell (7th Cir. April 25, 2018)

Order affirming the dismissal of all claims against certain Defendants and vacating the dismissal of count five and seven against remaining Defendants. Plaintiffs, consisting of former and current students of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), alleged that Defendants—consisting of UWM’s former chancellor, the Board of Regents, numerous university administration officials, and other UWM students—“conspired to interfere with student governance” by unseating elected officers and replacing them with a “puppet” student government.  Plaintiffs alleged that these actions gave rise to claims of due process, First Amendment retaliation, interference with the right to organize, violations of  Wisconsin’s Public Records Law, and  religious freedom. The court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims against Defendants who were not timely served with process, while Plaintiffs’ right-to-organize claim under state law was dismissed as being moot. Although the court found that the district court did not err in finding misjoinder, it vacated and remanded its decision because the proper remedy for such a finding is severance or dismissal without prejudice, and not dismissal with prejudice.

Student Organizations; Students; Alcohol & Drug Abuse; Campus Police, Safety & Crisis Management

Connolly, et al. v. University of Delaware, et al. (Del. Super. Feb. 28, 2018)

Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiffs are the parents of a University of Delaware student who was killed after he walked in front of a pickup truck after leaving an off-campus sorority social event. At the time of his death, the decease student was grossly impaired from alcohol and drug consumption. Plaintiffs brought a wrongful death claim against Defendants—the University of Delaware (UD), the  sorority that hosted the event and its local chapter (Sorority), the event caterer, and the union and social club that owned the venue—alleging each Defendant owed their son a duty of care, each Defendant breached that duty of care on the night of the incident, and each breach was the proximate cause of their son’s death. Specific to UD, the court held that UD did not assume a duty and in fact, expressly disclaimed any duty towards students participating in off-campus drinking activities sponsored by student organizations. Even if the Court had determined that UD owed a duty to the deceased student and breached that duty, it still would have awarded judgment in favor of UD, since Plaintiffs’ son’s death was “a direct result of his own volitional conduct.”