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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Veterans Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (H.R. 3218 Aug. 16, 2017)

The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, also known as the Post-9/11 GI Bill update, was signed into law. The legislation expands full educational benefits to additional groups of veterans and their families, and removes the time limit that Post-9/11 recipients have to access their educational benefits. It also restores educational benefits to student veterans whose institutions were temporarily or permanently closed. In July, the American Council on Education and five other higher education institutions wrote a letter to Senate leaders of the Committee on Veterans Affairs in support of the legislation.

Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration; Veterans & USERRA; Practice of Higher Education Law; Veterans Discrimination; Faculty & Staff

Breaker v. Bemidji State University (Minn. App. June 12, 2017)

Opinion reversing the district court’s dismissal of the action under the doctrine of res judicata. Appellant, a former faculty member at Bemidji State University, sued the University in 2011 for violations of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) when it refused to reinstate him to his former position after he returned from active military duty. The district court dismissed Appellant’s suit and the appeals court affirmed. Here, Appellant has again sued the University for violating USERRA based on the same factual allegations he used to support his claim in 2011. This time, however, Appellant asserts that his claims would have been barred in 2011 due to sovereign immunity and that state legislation implemented after his first compliant was dismissed precluded the district court from dismissing his claim based on res judicata. The appeals court agreed, finding that, under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, Congress lacked authority to abrogate state sovereign immunity for USERRA claims in state court and, therefore, sovereign immunity barred private damages actions against state employers for USERRA violations until Minnesota waived its immunity after Appellant’s first complaint was dismissed. Thus, Appellant lacked a full and fair opportunity to litigate his claims in his first suit.