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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Practice of Higher Education Law; Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration; Foundations & Affiliated Entities; Governance

Cain, et al. v. Salish Kootenai College, Inc., et al. (D. Mont. May 17, 2018)

Memorandum and Order granting Defendants’ Motion for Reconsideration. Plaintiffs brought claims against Salish Kootenai College, Inc. under the False Claims Act (FCA) and Defendants argued that sovereign immunity protected them from such claims because they functioned as an arm of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (the Tribe). Under the direction of the Ninth Circuit, the court used the multi-factor analysis of White v. University of California to determine that the College’s creation, purpose, structure, ownership, and management supported a finding that it functioned as an arm of the Tribe. In addition, the court found an express intent by the Tribal Council to share its sovereignty with the College and a clear financial relationship between the two in the form of financial contributions, leased trust land, and applications by the Tribal Council for funding from the U.S. Department of Interior on the College’s behalf. As a result, sovereign immunity protected Defendants from Plaintiffs’ FCA claims.

Foundations & Affiliated Entities; Governance

Dorf and Chicago Educational Research Foundation v. Kent State University Foundation (N.D. Ill. Nov. 17, 2017)

Order denying Plaintiff’s Motion to Dismiss Count I of Defendant’s Counterclaim. Plaintiffs are (1) the Chicago Board of Trade Educational Research Foundation (CBOT-ERF), (2) an Emeritus Board that created the Chicago Educational Research Foundation (CERF) as a method for retaining the successor of rights for the now defunct (CBOT-ERF), and (3) a donor representative of the Emeritus Board. Plaintiffs brought suit against Kent State University Foundation (KSUF) to surrender a $1.2 million donation from CBOT-ERF to KSUF for the purpose of funding an annual symposium on “futures and options” and supporting Kent State’s engineering program. At issue is whether the discontinuation of the annual symposium and dissolution of Kent State’s engineering program allows the donor representative to direct KSUF to surrender the gifted donation or allows the donor representative only to identify “alternative feasible directions as to use” of the donated funds in a way that satisfies CBOT-ERF’s intentions for the gift, as consistent with the equitable doctrine of cy pres. Looking to the contract language of the gift and acknowledging the early stage of the present litigation, the court found it plausible that CBOT-ERF intended for the funds to remain with KSUF and plausibly trusted KSUF to spend the $1.2 million in accordance with the purpose of the agreement. 

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.