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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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Is there precedents a university due to negligence?

Customer Question

Is there precedents for suing a university due to negligence? Specifically, is it possible to take a case beyond the grade appeal process of a graduate program and into a courtroom? This appeal process is greatly flawed and the consequences of failing a comp exam are grave, amounting to not only no degree, but no license to practice, and great financial debt and stress, all despite diligent preparation for the exam and excellent grades in all the courses leading up to the exam. The case centers on "neglect" in the form of near constant disorganization of the program leading up to the exam, which led to documented anxiety in the student, and critical failure to provide promised guidance for the exam. It's complex in it's dimensions, but is supported by plenty of evidence (emails, documents, and witnesses). I just want to know if it's a possible route to take for justice.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
The legal claim or cause of action for educational malpractice has been consistently and repeatedly rejected as a cause of action by the courts. Specifically, as a general rule a party may not allege claims against an educational facility for damages arising out its failure to properly educate or train a student and will not judge a grade in a class absent proof that the conduct was based solely on the age/race/sex/disability/national origin of the student. See, Peter W. v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 131 Cal. Rptr. 854 (Cal. Ct. App. 1976); Tubell v. Dade County Public Schools, 419 So.2d 388 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1982); Brantley v. District of Columbia, 640 A.2d 181 (D.C. 1994); Finstad v. Washburn Univ. of Topeka, 845 P.2d 685 (Kan. 1993); Doe v. Town of Framingham, 965 F. Supp 226 (D. Mass. 1997); Moss Rehab v. White, 692 A.2d 902 (Del. 1997); Moore v. Vanderloo, 386 N.W.2d 108 (Iowa 1986); Swidryk v. Saint Michael's Med. Ctr., 493 A.2d 641 (N.J. Super. App. Ct. 1985); Ross v. Creighton Univ., 957 F.2d 410 (7th Cir. 1992); Rich v. Kentucky Country Day, Inc., 793 S.W.2d 832 (Ken. App. 1990); Wickstrom v. North Idaho College, 725 P.2d 155 (Idaho 1986); Blane v. Alabama Commercial Coll., Inc., 585 So.2d 866 (Ala. 1991); Donohue v. Copiague Union Free Sch. Dist., 391 N.E.2d 1352 (N.Y. App. 1979); D.S.W. v. Fairbanks North Star Borogough Sch. Dist., 628 P.2d 554 (Alaska 1981); Doe v. Board of Education of Montgomery County, 453 A.2d 814 (Md. 1982); Alsides v. Brown Institute, Ltd., 592 N.W.2d 468 (Minn. 1999); Miller v. Loyola Univ. of New Orleans, 829 So.2d 1057 (La. Ct. App. 2002); Page v. Klein Tools, Inc., 610 N.W.2d 900 (Mich. 2000); Gupta v. New Britain Gen. Hosp., 687 A.2d 111 (Conn. 1996); Lawrence v. Lorain County Cmty. Coll., 713 N.E.2d 478 (Ohio Ct. App. 1998); Bittle v. Oklahoma City Univ., 6 P.3d 509 (Okla. Ct. App. 2000); Cavaliere v. Duff's Business Institute, 605 A.2d 397 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1992); Denver Parents Ass'n. v. Denver Bd. of Educ., 10 P.3d 662 (Colo. Ct. App. 2000) (citing, CenCor, Inc. v. Tolman, 868 P.2d 396 (Colo. 1994)); Dallas Airmotive, Inc. v. FlightSafety International, Inc., 277 S.W.3d 696 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008).
Thus, unless you can prove that the reason for the grading was only based on your age/race/sex/disability/national origin, you cannot just sue to appeal a grade you do not believe was fairly given or because you do not believe they properly conducted the class. These grounds have been rejected by the courts.
The courts have held the reasons for not accepting cases regarding grades or adequacy of the class instruction are:
1. the lack of a satisfactory standard of care by which to evaluate an educator;
2. the inherent uncertainties about causation and the nature of damages in light of such intervening factors as a student's attitude, motivation, temperament, past experience, and home environment;
3. the potential for a flood of litigation against schools; and
4. the possibility that such claims will "embroil the courts into overseeing the day-to-day operations of schools."
See: Page v. Klein Tools, Inc., 610 N.W.2d 900, 903 (Mich. 2000) (citing, Alsides v. Brown Inst., Ltd., 592 N.W.2d 468, 472 (Minn. 1999)).
So, I am afraid that the precedent is against a student suing a school over a grade or how a class was presented to them.

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