United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ANTHONY P. PATTI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
AMENDED OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO DISMISS AND/OR FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT  AND
DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
(Jason) Yaldo (“Plaintiff”) commenced the instant
action against his former medical school, Wayne State
University School of Medicine, and its staff (collectively
“Defendants”) on September 25, 2015. See
Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff initially requested a preliminary
injunction ordering his reinstatement into medical school,
Dkt. No. 3, which the Court denied on October 15, 2015. Dkt.
before the Court are two motions for summary judgment. On
January 8, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion To Dismiss
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(B)(6) And/Or
For Summary Judgment Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 56. Dkt. No. 70. On January 9, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
Limited Motion for Summary Judgment on Counts VII and VIII of
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint Pursuant To Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 56. Dkt. No. 72. The Court held a
hearing on the motions on June 5, 2017 and heard oral
arguments from counsel. For the reasons discussed herein, the
Court GRANTS Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment  and DENIES
Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment .
Plaintiff's First Year of Medical School
enrolled at Wayne State University School of Medicine in
2012, after completing undergraduate studies at University of
Michigan-Dearborn in 2009. Dkt. No. 83-1, pp. 2-3 (Pg. ID
2352-53); Dkt. No. 83-26, pp. 11-12 (Pg. ID 2768-69).
Conflicts between Plaintiff and the medical school arose
within his first few weeks of attendance and continued
throughout the duration of his studies.
2012, Plaintiff signed up to attend a three-day Summer
Matriculation Program that required mandatory attendance for
participants. Dkt. No. 70-5, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1652). Defendants
report that Plaintiff had an unexcused absence from the
program, id., but Plaintiff asserts he had
permission to leave early to pick up his father from the
airport. Dkt. No. 70-38, p. 4 (Pg. ID 1838).
early August 2012, Plaintiff's academic counselor emailed
Plaintiff a warning after speaking with Plaintiff's
mother on the phone, because his counselor believed that
Plaintiff had shared his email and Blackboard information
with his mother. Dkt. No. 70-5, p. 3 (Pg. ID 1653). Later
that month, testing staff reported that Plaintiff engaged in
suspicious behavior during a restroom break while taking his
Gross Anatomy written exam. Dkt. No. 70-5, p. 4 (Pg. ID
September 26, 2012, Plaintiff missed his Histology 2 exam.
Dkt. No. 70-5, p. 5 (Pg. ID 1655). Plaintiff's parents
dropped off a doctor's note with Dr. Matthew Jackson,
Assistant Dean of Basic Science Education. Id.
Plaintiff's student counselor, Kathleen Connors, reminded
Plaintiff via email to submit excused absence notes directly
to her, as explained at the Summer Matriculation Program and
Year 1 Orientation. Id. Two days later, on September
28, 2012, Plaintiff's Anatomy Professor reprimanded him
for irregular test-taking behavior in his Gross Anatomy
practical. Id. at 6.
was late to his make-up exam for Histology on October 3,
2012, which he states was because he was not allowed to bring
his backpack into the exam room, unlike other
students. Id.; Dkt. No. 83-26, p. 42 (Pg.
ID 2799). Later that month, on Sunday, October 21, 2013,
another medical student reported to the Gross Anatomy Course
Director that Plaintiff had brought his mother to look at the
cadavers in the Gross Anatomy lab. Dkt. No. 70-5, p. 8 (Pg.
ID 1658). Plaintiff's mother claims that the security
guard allowed her down to the anatomy lab without
Plaintiff's help. Dkt. No. 83-25, p. 25 (Pg. ID 2734).
Professionalism Committee Hearing
fall 2012, the medical school began to view Plaintiff's
number of excused absences as excessive. Dkt. No. 70-5, p. 11
(Pg. ID 1661) (stating that Plaintiff submitted notes to
excuse absences for eight exams in four months). In late
October, Jackson informed Plaintiff that he was being
referred to the Professionalism Committee. Dkt. No. 70-5, p.
9 (Pg. ID 1659). On November 27, 2012, Plaintiff and Jackson
reviewed the charges together and discussed the
Professionalism Committee process. Dkt. No. 70-5, p. 12 (Pg.
November 30, 2012, the Professionalism Committee reviewed
nine charges against Plaintiff, including allegations of
irregular test-taking, tardiness to exams, sharing private
log-in information with his mother, disrespect to cadavers,
and a high amount of excused absences from exams and required
meetings. Dkt. No. 83-24, p. 2 (Pg. ID 2708). After the
hearing, the Committee sent Plaintiff a letter on December 5,
2012, notifying him that he had failed to meet the medical
school's community standards. Dkt. No. 70-6, p. 2 (Pg. ID
Modification of Course Schedule
November 2012, Connors recommended that Plaintiff take a
modified curriculum, wherein he would have two years to
complete his Year 1 courses, taking half the courses and
exams each year. Dkt. No. 83-5, p. 6 (Pg. ID 2433). Connors
stated that she recommended this because Plaintiff was
submitting notes for multiple illnesses, there had been a
death in his family, and he was barely passing. Dkt. No.
83-5, pp. 6-7 (Pg. ID 2433-34). At that point, Plaintiff had
scored below average on every exam. Dkt. No. 70-5, p. 13 (Pg.
November 15, 2012, Plaintiff emailed Jackson that he
“would like to do the modified program.” Dkt. No.
70-19, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1775). Plaintiff later asserted that he
was forced to modify; however, he also admits that he had a
choice, but felt pressured to modify because he thought it
would make the school happy prior to his professionalism
hearing. Dkt. No. 83-26, pp. 38-39 (Pg. ID 2795-96).
November 2012, Plaintiff submitted a letter to Connors from
Dr. Mufid Al-Najjar, a psychiatrist. Dkt. No. 70-21, p. 2
(Pg. ID 1781). Al-Najjar stated that Plaintiff suffered from
severe anxiety. Id. Al-Najjar further recommended
that “special accommodation be provided to [Plaintiff]
in the form of relaxed schedule and flexible timing for the
required tests, ” and that Plaintiff's
“testing schedule be revised to allow him time to
adjust and attain his academic goals.” Id.
Plaintiff was not reminded by the medical school that he
needed to make an appointment with Student Disability
Services (SDS) for accommodations. See Dkt. No.
83-5, p. 8 (Pg. ID 2435). Dr. Lisa MacLean, Assistant Dean of
Student Affairs, thought the switch to a modified curriculum
already accommodated Plaintiff by reducing his classes and
exams by half. Dkt. No. 83-3, pp. 8, 10 (Pg. ID 2369, 2371).
Plaintiff's Second Year of Medical School
August 2013, Plaintiff had passed half of his first year
courses and moved on to the second half of the modified
curriculum. Dkt. No. 83-24, p. 2 (Pg. ID 2708). Earlier that
summer, Plaintiff began to see a Psychiatric Social Worker,
Jeffery DeVore, for anxiety and depression. Dkt. No. 70-46,
p. 2 (Pg. ID 1886). By September 16, 2013, DeVore recommended
that Plaintiff be admitted to partial hospital care because
his symptoms had worsened. Dkt. No. 83-8, p. 16 (Pg. ID
2512). On February 6, 2014, Plaintiff had an appointment with
DeVore in which he refused to see DeVore unless his mother
was present. Dkt. No. 83-8, pp. 11-12 (Pg. ID 2507-08). This
was Plaintiff's only appointment with DeVore in 2014.
wrote three letters to the medical school on Plaintiff's
behalf in 2014. See Dkt. No. 83-2, pp. 3-5 (Pg. ID
2356-58). In Plaintiff's absence, his mother took a very
active role in getting the letters and making suggestions
about the letters' content. See Dkt. No. 83-8,
p. 33 (Pg. ID 2529). DeVore's February 19, 2014 letter
recommended that Plaintiff be given “special
accommodations for a more flexible schedule for labs, exams,
and other course requirements.” Dkt. No. 83-2, p. 3
(Pg. ID 2356). In another letter, dated April 14, 2014,
DeVore “urge[d] the administration to seriously
consider [Plaintiff's grade] appeal” of an exam
where two exams appeared on the computer screen, causing
Plaintiff to feel anxious and perform poorly on the exam.
Dkt. No. 83-2, p. 4 (Pg. ID 2357). DeVore wrote that this
poor grade had caused Plaintiff to experience setbacks in his
health progress. Id. The letters were not submitted
Plaintiff's Third Year of Medical School
August 2014, Plaintiff had passed all his Year 1 classes
after two years in the modified curriculum program, so he
reentered the traditional Year 2 track with a full course
load. Dkt. No. 83-24, p. 2 (Pg. ID 2708).
November 17, 2014, DeVore wrote a letter to the medical
school recommending that Plaintiff “be provided with
special accommodations in terms of alternate testing format
and extended testing time.” Dkt. No. 83-2, p. 5 (Pg. ID
2358). Devore also recommended “a flexible testing
schedule due to [Plaintiff's] lack of ability to focus on
his preparation for the upcoming exams as a result of”
testing anomalies that caused him to develop a fear of the
computer exams. Id. After receiving this letter from
DeVore, MacLean emailed Plaintiff on November 26, 2014 to
remind him that he was required to obtain accommodations
through SDS. Dkt. No. 70-22, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1783). MacLean
offered Plaintiff a reduced-distraction testing room until he
was able to secure accommodations properly through SDS.
and his mother went to the SDS on December 12, 2014. Dkt. No.
83-7, p. 5 (Pg. ID 2469). Because Plaintiff had not scheduled
an appointment, SDS gave him informal accommodations
(extended testing time and a distraction-reduced environment)
until his intake appointment. Id. Plaintiff
completed his intake appointment on January 12, 2015.
Id. Plaintiff presented a note from DeVore and was
issued formal accommodations that same day. Id.
The Car Accident
December 5, 2014, Plaintiff was in a car accident with his
mother. Dkt. No. 83-25, p. 20 (Pg. ID 2729). The car
Plaintiff's mother was driving was damaged in a
hit-and-run. Id. at 20-21. Plaintiff was with his
mother as she filed a police report. Dkt. No. 83-26, p. 55
(Pg. ID 2812).
days later, on the morning of December 9, 2014, Plaintiff got
into a car accident while driving a rental car. Id.
Plaintiff emailed his professors, Dr. Christopher Geyer and
Dr. Chih Chuang, that he “got into a serious car
accident on [his] way to school” and that he would
provide them with more information later on that day. Dkt.
No. 70-7, p. 3 (Pg. ID 1670). After the accident, Plaintiff
drove the rental car to the collision shop, because the
damage was “somewhat minor.” Dkt. No. 83-26, p.
56 (Pg. ID 2813); Dkt. No. 83-40, p. 2 (Pg. ID 3093).
Plaintiff states that he did not call the police because he
had anxiety and did not know what to do after a car accident.
Dkt. No. 83-26, p. 62 (Pg. ID 2819).
responded shortly after Plaintiff sent the email, checking if
Plaintiff was okay and requesting a copy of the police report
prior to rescheduling Plaintiff's required training from
that morning. Dkt. No. 70-7, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1669). Plaintiff
states that the owner of the collision shop gave him a short
accident report form from his mother's accident, and
altered this form to report the accident happened on December
9, rather than December 5. Dkt. No. 83-26, p. 57 (Pg. ID
2814). Nine hours after Chuang's email, Plaintiff
responded, stating “[p]lease find attached the police
report and picture of my car following the accident, ”
and attaching a scan of the altered accident report form and
a photo of his mother's damaged car from the December 5th
accident. Dkt. No. 70-7, pp. 2-5 (Pg. ID 1669-72).
requested that Plaintiff provide the full police report from
the accident because the form Plaintiff submitted was
incomplete. Dkt. No. 83-39, p. 5 (Pg. ID 3074). Chuang sought
to double-check the information provided, so he passed on the
accident report number to other staff, who forwarded it to
the police department. Id. The police department
informed the medical school that the report with that number
did not match the information Plaintiff provided.
Id. at 6. The police instructed Jackson to ask
Plaintiff for the full police report. Dkt. No. 70-10, p. 3
(Pg. ID 1681).
emailed Plaintiff requesting a full copy of the accident
report on December 19, 2014. Dkt. No. 83-41, p. 2 (Pg. ID
3095). Jackson requested the documentation by January 7,
2015. Dkt. No. 70-10, p. 3 (Pg. ID 1681). Plaintiff responded
that he was sick and studying for exams, so he could not
provide the report. Dkt. No. 83-41, p. 2 (Pg. ID 3095).
Plaintiff also stated that he told Jackson that he had
already provided what he had, since his mother dealt with the
insurance. Dkt. No. 83-26, p. 58 (Pg. ID 2815).
January 12, 2015, Plaintiff submitted a digitally-altered
police report to Jackson via email. Dkt. No. 70-10, p. 3 (Pg.
ID 1681). Plaintiff had paid a friend cash to alter his
mother's Michigan Traffic Crash Report to reflect the
information he provided to the school on December 9th. Dkt.
No. 83-26, pp. 59-60 (Pg. ID 2816-17). The alterations
including changes to the date and time of the accident, name
and driver's license information, and gender of pronouns
in the narrative. Compare Dkt. No. 70-8
with Dkt. No. 70-9. Plaintiff testified that Jackson
pressured him to provide a report, which elevated his
anxiety, causing him to make the decision to submit the
falsified report. Dkt. No. 70-44, p. 6 (Pg. ID 1874).
the medical school learned that Plaintiff submitted a
falsified police report, Jackson submitted a Student Code of
Conduct Report to the Dean of Students on main campus at
Wayne State University. Dkt. No. 83-13, p. 19 (Pg. ID 2615).
On February 6, 2015, Plaintiff was found responsible for
“knowingly furnishing false information to the
institution” and “failure to comply with the
direction of any authorized institutional representative,
acting in the performance of his/her duties.” Dkt. No.
70-11, pp. 2-3 (Pg ID 1684-85).
Plaintiff's Final Semester at the Medical School
completed the course exams for his Immunology/Microbiology
course, which ended in September 10, 2014, on January 8,
2015. Dkt. No. 70-30, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1807). Plaintiff's
final score was a 66.47%, below the pass rate set for the
course. Id. Plaintiff later appealed his
Immunology/Microbiology grade because he believed the
professor miscalculated his score. Dkt. No. 83-24, p. 3 (Pg.
ID 2709); Dkt. No. 83-23, p. 2 (Pg. ID 2706).
January 14, 2015, Plaintiff was placed on academic probation
due to course failure. Dkt. No. 70-29, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1804).
Several days later, he submitted doctors' notes granting
him a combined thirteen days of excused absences in relation
to a “life threatening car accident.”
See Dkt. No. 70-34, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1823); Dkt. No.
70-17, pp. 7, 17 (Pg. ID 1729, 1739).
January 19, 2015, Plaintiff attended an appointment with
DeVore, where he spoke about his lapse in judgment for
providing the falsified police report. Dkt. No. 83-8, p. 22
(Pg. ID 2518). Plaintiff provided the school with an unsigned
letter from DeVore the next day, stating that his anxiety and
obsessions can cause reactions to be impulsive and based on
fear, leading to poor decision making. Dkt. No. 70-13, p. 2
(Pg. ID 1695).
February 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Wayne
State University Office of Equal Opportunity against Jackson.
Dkt. No. 83-11, p. 2 (Pg. ID 2586). Plaintiff alleged that
Jackson discriminated against him based on disability and
national origin, because Jackson allowed multiple exams to
pop up on Plaintiff's computer screen; demanded to meet
with Plaintiff, causing him embarrassment in front of his
classmates and lost study time; and denied Plaintiff's
request to be called by a nickname instead of his birth name.
Dkt. No. 83-11, pp. 4-5 (Pg. ID 2588-89).
March 2015, Plaintiff and his mother drafted a letter for
DeVore to provide the school, including all the
accommodations that Plaintiff sought. Dkt. No. 70-48, pp. 5-9
(Pg. ID 1898-1902). DeVore modified, signed, and sent the
letter. Id. The letter stated that Plaintiff needed
a customized testing schedule, an undisturbed testing
environment, and no emails sent to him within an unspecified
period prior to exams. Id.
March 27, 2015, a meeting was held between Plaintiff,
Plaintiff's father, DeVore, a representative from SDS,
and Dr. Patrick Bridge, the Associate Dean of Undergraduate
Medical Education. Dkt. No. 70-18, p. 32 (Pg. ID 1773). In
the meeting, the group created a customized testing schedule
that Plaintiff agreed to adhere to with no additional
absences. Id.; Dkt. No. 83-7, p. 21 (Pg. ID 2485);
Dkt. No. 83-8, p. 25 (Pg. ID 2521).
April 2, 2015, Plaintiff emailed and requested two new
accommodations: to take exams in a room by himself and to
take exams later in the day. Dkt. No. 70-26, p. 3 (Pg. ID
1795). The next day, Plaintiff requested another two new
accommodations: to choose the room he takes his exams in and
that Dr. Jason Booza, Director of Assessment and Medical
Research, not be allowed to communicate with him before or
during the day of his exam. Id. at 2. He did not
contact the SDS about these accommodations and did not
provide medical documentation at the time. Plaintiff emailed
DeVore later that month asking for a letter to state his need
for afternoon exams. Dkt. No. 83-8, p. 43 (Pg. ID 2539).
5, 2015, after missing additional make-up exams, Plaintiff
created another custom testing schedule. Dkt. No. 70-50, p. 5
(Pg. ID 1909). Nevertheless, Plaintiff continued to miss
exams on his customized schedule. Dkt. No. 70-48, p. 4 (Pg.
ID 1897). On May 12, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint
against Wayne State University with the Michigan Department
of Civil Rights, alleging discrimination based on national
origin and disability. Dkt. No. 83-11, p. 6 (Pg. ID 2590). On
May 29, 2015, Plaintiff emailed the school to requesting a
specific proctor to administer his exam and noting how two
exams popped up on the screen during a prior exam, which
exacerbated his anxiety. Dkt. No. 70-48, p. 4 (Pg. ID 1897).
end of May 2015, Plaintiff's Immunology grade appeal was
denied at the final step of the appellate process. Dkt. No.
83-24, p. 2 (Pg. ID 2708). Plaintiff and his mother had an
appointment with a nurse on June 9, 2015, where they
expressed anger about the denial of his grade appeal, and an
increase in Plaintiff's depressive symptoms. Dkt. No.
70-46, p. 3 (Pg. ID 1887).
Promotions Committee Hearing
12, 2015, Plaintiff received a letter that he was being
called before the Promotions Committee to review his academic
performance and progress. Dkt. No. 70-31, p. 2 (Pg. ID 1809).
The letter stated that, “[t]he committee has the
authority to decide all possible outcomes including
submitted a letter for the Committee's consideration,
detailing “the tortuous ride that has been [his] second
year of medical school.” Dkt. No. 70-34. He spoke
extensively about his anxiety, his grade appeal, and his plan
to take missing exams over the summer and appeal other failed
exams. Id. at 2-4. DeVore wrote a letter on
Plaintiff's behalf on July 9, 2015. Dkt. No. 83-8, p. 46
(Pg. ID 2542). He stated in the letter that Plaintiff had
been compliant in treatment, but later testified that the
assessment was not accurate. Id. at 46-47, 58.
10, 2015, Plaintiff attended the meeting, along with his
father and his attorney. Dkt. No. 83-26, p. 21 (Pg. ID 2778).
Plaintiff secretly recorded the hearing, including
conversations between the committee members and the
university's attorney after he had left the room.
Id. at 22; Dkt. No. 70-36, p. 3 (Pg. ID 1828).
Plaintiff did not receive a copy of the packet assembled
summarizing his time at the medical school, Dkt. No. 83-24,
and he disputes the accuracy of the information within the
packet. Dkt. No. 83-26, p. 67 (Pg. ID 2824). After
Plaintiff's presentation, the Promotions Committee voted
to dismiss Plaintiff. Dkt. No. 70-36, ...