Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ross v. Creighton University case brief summary

Ross v. Creighton University

Facts
i. Kevin Ross filed suit against the University for Negligent Admission, negligent educational malpractice, and breach of contract arising from the school’s failure to educate him. Ross came from a disadvantaged background. Coach realized this and assured Ross that he would receive sufficient tutoring so that he would “receive a meaningful education while at Creighton.” Ross asserts that the school failed to provide him with sufficient and competent tutoring that it had promised. When Ross left Creighton he had the overall language skills of a fourth grader and the reading skills of a seventh grader.

Plaintiff Argument
i. 1st: Contends Creighton committed, “educational malpractice” by not providing him with an education and preparing him for employment after college

The District Court: didn’t allow this claim; not liked by courts due to difficulties in determining causation and the duty owed, etc.

2nd: Claims that the school negligently inflicted emotional distress upon him by enrolling him in a stressful university environment for which he was not prepared, and then by failing to provide remedial programs that would have helped him survive

District Court: this claim only exists if the plaintiff was physically harmed the negligent act, within the “zone of danger” of physical harm, or the victim of a traditional tort such as medical malpractice. Since Ross’s claim didn’t fit any of these categories, the court denied his claim on this theory.

3rd: Ross urges the court to adopt a new cause of action for the tort of “negligent admission” which would allow recovery when an institution admits, and then does not adequately assist an unprepared student.

District Court: Illinois would refuse on policy grounds. This cause of action would unduly burden universities and also endanger the college prospects of may marginal students.

Issue
i. Whether the university had provided any real access to its academic curriculum at all.
ii. Risks of admitting lower qualified students
1. Running risk of athlete being academically ineligible
2. There are heavy costs to the school if ineligible and there are costs for setting up an academic support center
3. Risk mean people trying to help people too much (ex: academic fraud and grade changes)

Holding:
i. Negligence Claims
1. The court rejected the negligence claims of the P based on the principle that there are no adequate standards against which to measure such a claim
ii. The Contract Claim:

Rule
a. To state a claim for breach of contract, the Plaintiff must do more than simply allege that the education was not good enough. Instead, he must point to an identifiable contractual promise that the defendant failed to honor.

Analysis
Ruling on this issue would not require an inquiry into the nuances of educational process and theories, but rather an objective assessment of whether the institution made a good faith effort to perform on its promise.

7th Circuit disagreed with district court. The allegations of the complaint were sufficient to warrant further proceedings.

They agreed that courts should not “take on the job of supervising the relationship b/w colleges and student athletes or creating in effect a new relationship b/w them.

However, the court believed that the district court can adjudicate Ross’s specific and narrow claim that he was barred from any participation in and benefit from the university’s academic program without second guessing the professional judgment of the University faculty on academic matters.

Based on the fact that school knew that he was under-qualified to participate in its curriculum, school made specific promises that he would be able to participate in a meaningful way, and promised to provide him with services and tutoring.

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