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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today

In Sung Park v. Ind. Univ. Sch. of Dentistry (SD Ind., Lawrence), an 11-page opinion, Circuit Judge Wood writes:

Sung Yeun Park had hoped to become a dental surgeon when she enrolled at the Indiana University School of Dentistry (IUSD) in 2006. After one year at the school, however, Park began to experience a series of serious setbacks, including several failing grades and allegations of professional misconduct. Eventually, the school concluded that she had to be dismissed from its program. Park appealed without success to various school committees and administrators to overturn this decision. This suit, alleging Equal Protection and Due Process violations, as well as claims for state law breach of contract, represents her latest effort to win re-admittance. The district court dismissed all of Park’s claims for failure to state a claim, and we affirm. * * *

Park concedes that her complaint did not specifically plead that her race or her gender had anything to do with what happened to her. This alone could defeat her claim of race- and gender-based discrimination. But even looking past this omission, Park’s complaint does not plausibly allege discriminatory intent. The complaint contains only one reference to any such discrimination: a single statement that “Defendants’ conduct [expelling Park] was undertaken because of her race, ancestry, national origin and/or gender.” Compl. ¶ 77. This unsupported legal conclusion is precisely the type of allegation that was rejected in Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009), and in Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556-57 (2007). On appeal, Park attempts to remedy this deficiency by including a footnote in her brief noting that she is “prepared to testify to specific instances in which Defendants applied a pattern of prejudicial and discriminatory standards of conduct to other female [and Asian] dental students.” But an appellate brief is not the place for an amendment to the complaint, and even this footnote offers no facts that might plausibly support these allegations..

IUSD did not breach its contract with Park, nor did IUSD violate Park’s federal rights to due process or equal protection of the laws. The judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 30, 2012 01:26 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions