Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Marshall v. Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division

October 12, 2018

JAMES D. MARSHALL, Plaintiff,
v.
ALABAMA COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          EMILY C. MARKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief (Doc. 1), and Defendant's motion to dismiss (Doc. 9). For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion, the Court concludes that the motion to dismiss is due to be granted.

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Although it must accept well-pled facts as true, the court is not required to accept a plaintiff's legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 664 (2009) (“[T]he tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions”). In evaluating the sufficiency of a plaintiff's pleadings, the court must indulge reasonable inferences in plaintiff's favor, “but we are not required to draw plaintiff's inference.” Aldana v. Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc., 416 F.3d 1242, 1248 (11th Cir. 2005). Similarly, “unwarranted deductions of fact” in a complaint are not admitted as true for the purpose of testing the sufficiency of plaintiff's allegations. Id.; see also Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 681 (stating conclusory allegations are “not entitled to be assumed true”).

         A complaint may be dismissed if the facts as pled do not state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (explaining “only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss”); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 561-62, 570 (2007) (retiring the prior “unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts” standard). In Twombly, the Supreme Court emphasized that a complaint “requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Factual allegations in a complaint need not be detailed but “must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).” Id. at 555 (internal citations and emphasis omitted).

         In Iqbal, the Supreme Court reiterated that although Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 does not require detailed factual allegations, it does demand “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint must state a plausible claim for relief, and “[a] claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. The mere possibility the defendant acted unlawfully is insufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. Id. at 679. The well-pled allegations must nudge the claim “across the line from conceivable to plausible.” Twombly, 556 U.S. at 570.

         II. FACTS[1]

         Plaintiff James D. Marshall was a student at Defendant Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (“ACOM”). (Doc. 1 at 1). ACOM is medical school located in Dothan, Alabama. (Id. at 3). Plaintiff was suffering from “Situational Depression” in his second year of his studies “related to having a family member recently admitted to the hospital in dire condition with little hope of recovery; also, around this same time his childhood dog, with a recent prior diagnosis of a fatal condition, had started to deteriorate rapidly health-wise.” (Id. at 4). Plaintiff further alleged that “he was sick with a medically diagnosed Acute Stress Disorder, dehydrated with a ‘sky rocketing' blood pressure, along with suffering from other stress related symptoms.” (Id. at ¶ 7). Plaintiff claims that he “requested, but was not given any reasonable accommodation, such as being allowed a week or two off prior to taking his last two remaining exams; so he could recover from the initial shock of these two gut wrenching stressors.” Id. Plaintiff states that ACOM “would not give him reasonable accommodation given his situational, medically diagnosed Depression.” (Id. at ¶ 1)(emphasis in the original).

         On June 4, 2018, Plaintiff took an exam at ACOM.[2] (Doc. 1 at ¶ 13). Plaintiff alleges that he “scored extremely high on” the exam, but was accused of cheating; specifically, that he was exhibiting “suspicious behavior, ” and was “wrongfully accused reportedly by an anonymous fellow medical student…” (Id. at 4). Plaintiff admits that he “was acting out of character on all dates relevant to this matter, [but] it was not because of any unethical reasons…” but because of stress, dehydration, and his blood pressure. (Id. at ¶ 7). Plaintiff does not argue that the lack of alleged accommodations hindered his performance or damaged his score on the June 4, 2018, administration of the exam; rather, his Complaint claims that he “was the first person to complete this exam” and that “he scored extremely high.” (Id. at ¶ 13). The Complaint specifically requests that “all of the Plaintiff's Exams of June, 2018, should be thrown out, except the first one on June 4, 2018…” (Id. at 5).

         On June 4, 2018, after the administration of the exam that morning, Dean Reynolds sent an email to Plaintiff stating that “[t]he exam Proctors as well as video evidence suggest suspicious activity of your testing behaviors during today's exam. Therefore, I am recommending you meet with student progress committee.” (Doc. 1-1 at 24).

         On June 5, 2018, Dean Philips informed Plaintiff via email that he was scheduled for a meeting with the Student Progress Committee (“SPC”) on June 6, 2018. (Doc. 1-1 at 11). At that meeting, “[t]he SPC allowed [Plaintiff] to commend and answer questions regarding the issue.” (Id. at 30). The SPC recommended, and Dean and Chief Academic Officer Craig J. Lenz affirmed, that Plaintiff's first score would be null and void and cautioned him that his “[f]uture academic performance will be monitored closely by the [SPC].” Id. On June 8, 2018, Dean Reynolds informed Plaintiff via email that his “first score will not be considered due to suspicious behavior. However, the investigation is not closed. It will remain open until we have reviewed any additional information that we have requested.” (Id. at 14).

         ACOM required Plaintiff to retake the exam on June 13, 2018. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 24). Plaintiff alleges that the proctor for the June 13 exam directed a derogatory comment at him “causing him to tune out her redundant voice” and “[t]his resulted in him not remembering to place his cell phone in his vehicle prior to the start of the exam.” (Id. at ¶ 26). Plaintiff admits that the exam proctor “could have possibly warned the students to not have their cell phone on them during the exam….” Id. Plaintiff met with the SPC again on June 19, 2018, to review “an Honor Code Violation during the Renal Remediation Exam on Wednesday, June 13, 2018, ” following which the SPC recommended that he be dismissed for that violation. (Doc. 1-1 at 28). Dean Lenz sent a letter to Plaintiff informing him that he affirmed the recommendation of the SPC and notifying Plaintiff that he was allowed “no more than three working days from the time you receive my decision to submit an appeal to the ACOM Appeals Board, ” with instructions on how to submit his appeal. Id. (emphasis in original). That same day, Plaintiff signed the letter, “to acknowledge receipt and understanding of this decision” and reserving his right to appeal the decision. (Id. at 29). On June 21, 2018, the Appeals Board met with Plaintiff and “decided not to overturn the decision of the SPC and the Dean, ” noting that its “decision is final.” (Id. at 36).

         On July 3, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court seeking injunctive relief pursuant to Rule 65, Fed. R. Civ. P., on the basis that ACOM's decision to dismiss Plaintiff from the school “wrongfully denied him Due Process” and that ACOM “wrongfully and negligently terminated the Plaintiff from the Defendant Medical School, after he had given the Defendant medical school proper Americans with Disabilities Discrimination Notice and Family Medical Leave Notice…”[3](Doc. 1 at 1-2). The Complaint requests that the Court enter injunctive relief “to STAY and REVERSE ALL adverse academic actions taken by Defendant…” (Id. at 20)(emphasis in original).

         On July 27, 2018, ACOM filed a Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P., arguing that “certain well established legal principles, such as the state actor requirement for constitutional due process claims, the limiting of relief to employees under the FMLA, and notice of an alleged disability under the ADA, prevent Marshall from moving ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.