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McMillin v. College

August 8, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas W. Phillips United States District Judge



The plaintiff filed the instant suit alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d ("Title VI"). The defendant has filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, for summary judgment [Doc. 31] pursuant to Rules 12(b) and 56(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the plaintiff has responded in opposition [Docs. 43, 46, and 47]. For the reasons that follow, defendant's dispositive motion [Doc.31] is GRANTED.*fn1

I. Facts

As the law requires, all disputed facts and inferences are resolved most favorably to the plaintiff. Furthermore, the Court merely provides an abridged summary of relevant facts for the purposes of this opinion.

Specifically, the instant suit involves two claims: 1) discrimination based upon plaintiff's Caucasian race under Title VI; and 2) defendant's fraudulent misrepresentation regarding its probationary status while the plaintiff was enrolled in defendant's courses.

A. Title VI Claim

In November of 2002, the plaintiff Paul McMillin ("McMillin"), a retired Los Angeles police officer, enrolled in the Gateway Program at Tusculum College ("College"). After completion of the Gateway Program in April of 2004, the plaintiff registered for the College's Graduate and Professional Studies Program ("Graduate Program"). As a graduate student, the plaintiff was placed on an academic plan. As such, the plaintiff was assigned to a group, known as a cohort, and registered in a proper sequence of course work with his cohort to continue through the completion of the Graduate Program. The sequence of course work is known as the "lock step" sequence.

It appears from the record that during plaintiff's academic endeavors at the College, plaintiff disagreed with many of the policies and practices of the school. Among other points of contention, plaintiff found the faculty's supervision of students in their projects to be inadequate; was dissatisfied with testing and grading procedures; and believed that the College improperly handled situations personal to him. The record is replete with plaintiff's formal grievances to the College and the College's responses. However, in the subject suit regarding discrimination, plaintiff refers only to one incident in which he claims that the College was motivated by racial amicus. In particular, the plaintiff asserts that he was discriminated against when the College disallowed him to enroll and participate in a certain graduate course, which also prevented him from using federally subsidized/unsubsidized student loan money.*fn2

Chronologically, the record reflects that on September 9, 2004, the plaintiff submitted a request to drop course MGMT 330, which plaintiff was scheduled to take with cohort BS 430, and to add the course with cohort BS 432. On September 10, 2004, Craig Layman, the College's Director of Academic Advising, told the plaintiff that he could process his request to drop course MGMT 330 with cohort BS 430, but that he could not enroll him in the same course with cohort BS 432 because "that would get him out of sequence with all of the other classes for which he had pre-registered." Layman told the plaintiff that in order to make the requested change, plaintiff would need to meet with the Department Chair and himself to work out the details. However, the plaintiff felt that he was entitled to make the change requested without meeting with the Department Chair and Layman and, therefore, refused to attend any meeting. Specifically, the plaintiff believed that another student, Juwanza Smith-Figueroa ("Smith-Figueroa"), who is African-American, was permitted to change a course registration to effect a change in cohorts without a meeting with administration. In other words, plaintiff believed that requiring him to attend a meeting with administration would be in effect disparate treatment based upon race.

On October 18, 2004, plaintiff began course MGMT 330 with cohort 432, which was instructed by Tom Dorsey ("Dorsey"). Upon plaintiff's arrival, Dorsey advised the plaintiff that he had been directed not to grade any of the plaintiff's course work because the plaintiff was not in fact registered for the class. Dorsey also advised the plaintiff to contact administration. Despite being told that he was not registered in course MGMT 330 with cohort 432, plaintiff again arrived for class in course MGMT 330 with cohort 432 on October 25, 2004. Plaintiff was then approached by William T. Cox ("Cox"), Assistant Dean and Director of the Knoxville Center. Cox reiterated that the plaintiff was not registered for the class and that the plaintiff could not attend the course session. The plaintiff responded that he would not leave the class session. Cox then prepared and delivered a letter to the plaintiff, explaining that plaintiff's failure to attend a meeting with administration resulted in the College's rejection of plaintiff's drop/add request. Further, the letter advised plaintiff that he could not attend course MGMT 330 with cohort 432, else he would be trespassing.

Thereafter, the plaintiff was offered the opportunity to re-attend class at the College; however, this option would delay the plaintiff's graduation by five months. Further, the plaintiff was offered the opportunity to enroll in courses in Morgan County. Ultimately, the plaintiff did not accept any of these alternatives.

B. Fraudulent Misrepresentation

It appears from the record that the College was placed on academic probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools ("Southern Association") for a period beginning December 11, 2001 and ending on December 9, 2003. The plaintiff alleges that he was never told prior to enrollment nor during his studies with the College that the College was placed on probation. Plaintiff asserts that he was initially informed of the College's probation status on or about September of 2004 and, further, that he was aware that the defendant was engaged in fraud through misrepresentation with respect to College's probation in November of 2005.

In plaintiff's response to the defendant's dipositive motion, he states the following in relevant part:

"[My] cause of action for Fraudulent Misrepresentation is not bourn (sic) from any single act of Defendant failing to tell the Plaintiff all the facts about the educational program. There is clearly a certain amount of disgust that goes along with paying for a product or service and finding later that the product or service was deficient . . . . Plaintiff is asking this Court to look at the greater picture; fraud in the context of misrepresentation."

In other words, plaintiff points to no specific act, representation, or omission of defendant. There is no evidence in the record that the College attempted to conceal the fact that the College was on probation for the relevant period. The College has submitted several affidavits in that regard, including the affidavit of Denise Woods ("Woods"), the former Vice President for Extended Education of Tusculum College and who currently is suing the College in an employment discrimination lawsuit. While the plaintiff baldly asserts that Woods supports his claims, Woods' affidavits clearly state that the College made no efforts to conceal the probation and that she personally ...

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