Friday, March 26, 2010

Student who sues over "C" in legal writing class loses on appeal too.

The online ABA Journal is reporting on the appellate denouement of a case we reported on back in November involving a New York Law School student who sued because he received a "C" in his legal writing class.   According to the court:

Plaintiff, a transfer student at defendant law school, commenced this action alleging, inter alia, that defendant breached an implied contract of good faith and fair dealing with him as a result of a grade he received in his Legal Writing II course. Claiming that he was unfairly disadvantaged because he did not take Legal Writing I at the law school, plaintiff seeks to require the law school to change its grading system from letter grades to pass/fail.

And the holding?  Based on first year contract principles as well as the limited review afforded legal challenges to a grade, this student lost for both reasons:

"The rights and obligations of the parties, as contained in the university's bulletins, bec[o]me a part of the parties' contract" (Prusack v State of New York, 117 AD2d 729, 730 [1986]). However, only specific promises set forth in a school's bulletins, circulars and handbooks, which are material to the student's relationship with the school, can establish the existence of an implied contract (see Lloyd v Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, 1999 WL 47153, *9-10, 1999 US Dist LEXIS 906, *25-28 [ND NY 1999]; see also Abraham v New York Univ. Coll. of Dentistry, 190 AD2d 567 [1993]). Absent the existence of a contract, a claim alleging breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing is legally unavailing (see Schorr v Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 44 AD3d 319 [2007]). Furthermore, "although . . . the determinations of educational institutions as to the academic performance of their students are not completely beyond the scope of judicial review, that review is limited to the question of whether the challenged determination was arbitrary and capricious, irrational, made in bad faith or contrary to Constitution or statute" (Matter of Susan M. v New York Law School, 76 NY2d 241, 246 [1990] [internal citations omitted]).

You can read a pdf of the decision here.

Hat tips to brother Mitch Rubinstein of the Adjunct Law Prof blog for first bringing this story to our attention back in November and to the online ABA Journal for apprising us of the follow up.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2010/03/law-student-who-sues-over-c-in-legal-writing-loses-on-appeal-too.html

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