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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
Financial Aid; Bankruptcy & Student Debt; Students

Hugh Lawrence Brooks v. University of Maryland, et al. (Bankr. S.D. Ind. September 14, 2017)

Order granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff sought to discharge his student loan debt from the University of Maryland for undue hardship. The court found that Plaintiff could not meet the burden of proving undue hardship because he was the only member of his household, had net annual earnings of over $110,000, and by his own admission acknowledged that “his income and expected future income is and will be adequate for him to afford the basic necessities of life.”

9/20/2017
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Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Student Housing; Students; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence

Jane Doe 7 v. University of Kansas (D. Kan. September 13, 2017)

Memorandum and Order partially denying Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss and deferring judgment on Defendant’s argument under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act (KCPA). Plaintiff, a student of the University of Kansas (KU),was sexually assaulted in a KU residence hall. She joined a class action lawsuit alleging that the University violated the KCPA by purportedly making false representations about the safety of the university’s residence halls. Plaintiff previously filed an individual claim in state court, which was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.  In the present case, the Defendant sought to dismiss Plaintiff’s claim under the doctrine of res judicata.  Because the state court’s dismissal for lack of constitutional standing was not a decision on the merits, the court allowed Plaintiff’s claim under the KCPA to proceed. However, it deferred judgment on the merits, granting Plaintiff leave to amend complaint to allege with particularity facts giving rise to a violation of the KCPA. 

9/20/2017
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Foreign Students; Employment; Immigration & International Activities

Amicus Brief in Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project (September 18, 2017)

Amicus brief by the American Council on Education and twenty-nine other higher education associations to the Supreme Court in the United States for the case Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project. At issue is whether Executive Order No. 13,780, which temporarily restricted foreign nationals and refugees from certain countries and refugees from entering the United States, violated the Establishment Clause and if the global injunction it enacted was impermissibly overbroad. The amicus brief outlines the “serious negative effects that the [Executive Order] will have on American institutions of higher education.” Amici argue that students, professors, and researchers must be able to travel domestically or abroad, without impediment;  otherwise, U.S. colleges and universities “will struggle to maintain the level of talent and experience that makes the United States the world leader in higher education and research development.” 

9/20/2017
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Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity; Equal Protection; Constitutional Issues; Due Process

Peace Esonwune v. Regents of the University of California (N.D. Cal. September 12, 2017)

Order dismissing complaint without leave to amend. Plaintiff is a disabled, female, African American of Nigerian heritage enrolled in the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Pharmacy. She alleged claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendment, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act (RA), Title IX, and California constitutional law, arising from alleged discrimination based on race, disability, and sex.  Despite liberally construing Plaintiff’s pro se pleadings, the court found Plaintiff’s ADA and RA claims failed because she did not allege that the University’s accommodations were insufficient, Plaintiff’s due process claim failed for failure to allege insufficient process, and Plaintiff’s other constitutional claims against the Regents were barred under sovereign immunity. Turning to Plaintiff’s claims against Individual Defendants, the court found insufficient facts to support her claims of gender discrimination under Title IX and the equal protection clause, as well as Plaintiff’s right to petition the government to redress her grievances under the First and Fourteenth Amendment. The court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s remaining California claims.

9/19/2017
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Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence

Tyler Stenzel v. Bemidji State University (D. Minn. September 13, 2017)

Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a student at Bemidji State University (BSU), alleged that BSU selectively enforced its sexual misconduct policies and procedures, violating Title IX and breaching the institution’s  covenant of good fair and fair dealing.  Following Plaintiff’s suspension for sexual misconduct, Plaintiff alleged that BSU’s failure to investigate his cross-allegations of sexual misconduct gave rise to an actionable selective enforcement claim. The court found Plaintiff’s alleged facts were insufficient to demonstrate gender-based preferential treatment because allegations of procedural irregularities or bias do not give rise to gender-based inferences, bias in favor of alleged victims does not equate to gender-motivated bias, and Plaintiff’s concession that he did not formally report sexual violence through a channel that would trigger an investigation absolved BSU of the obligation to act. The court further found Individual Defendants were protected by sovereign immunity against Plaintiff’s breach of the covenant of good fair and fair dealing claim. 

9/19/2017
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Risk Management; Compliance & Risk Management

Jessica Colmorgen v. Bd. of Trustees of Cornell University, et al. (N.Y. Sup. Ct. September 11, 2017)

Decision granting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment and denying Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. A student at Cornell University, slipped and fell due to a pool of water that collected in a depression in the bathroom floor of her residence hall. Plaintiff sued Defendants on the theory of premises liability, but the court found that Plaintiff did not allege any facts showing that Defendants created, or had any actual or constructive knowledge of the alleged dangerous condition. Moreover, Plaintiff’s admission that she saw the pool of water long before she slipped and fell absolved the University of any duty to warn.  

9/18/2017
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Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Clarence Robinson v. Bd. of Supervisors of Louisiana State University, et al. (E.D. La. September 13, 2017)

Order granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, an employee of Louisiana State University (LSU), alleged discrimination and retaliation under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) after he was terminated following an injury he suffered at work that required him to return to work in a wheelchair. The court dismissed Plaintiff’s claim under sovereign immunity, to the extent that the Complaint sought monetary damages. The court also dismissed without prejudice Plaintiff’s claim for injunctive relief, granting Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint to name an individual person acting in their official capacity as a state agent of Defendant. 

9/18/2017
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Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Christopher Rosbough v. Florida State University and Nancy Marcus (N.D. Fla. August 21, 2017)

Order granting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff, a student at Florida State University (FSU) proceeding pro se, alleged discrimination under both the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act, alleging that FSU failed to provide reasonable accommodations and violated his rights to equal protection and due process.  The claim arose after FSU dismissed Plaintiff from his Ph.D. program for twice failing a required preliminary exam and neglecting to show for the third administration of the exam due to his dissatisfaction with the accommodations offered. Because Plaintiff failed to make specific requests for altered accommodations prior to the third exam, the Court found that he failed to trigger any duty on FSU’s part to re-engage in the interactive process.  The court further dismissed Plaintiff’s Section 1983 disability discrimination claim both under the purview of Eleventh Amendment immunity and because neither the State of Florida nor State officials were “persons” under the statute.  The court also awarded judgment to the Defendants on Plaintiff’s equal protection claim for failure to identify a similarly situated student who was treated differently from him, and Plaintiff’s due process claim because it relied on the same operative facts underlying Plaintiff’s failed claim of disability discrimination. 

9/18/2017
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