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Brown v. University of Kansas

United States District Court, District of Kansas

April 18, 2014

ROBERT M. BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

ERIC F. MELGREN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Pro se Plaintiff Robert M. Brown brings suit against sixteen Defendants, including the University of Kansas. He alleges under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 a deprivation of due process of law regarding a property and liberty interest. He also asserts state claims of wanton and gross negligence, tortious interference with prospective business advantage, and civil conspiracy. Defendants now bring a motion for summary judgment. Because the Court concludes that no genuine issue of material fact remains as to any of Plaintiff’s claims, the Court grants Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment.

I. Factual and Procedural Background[1]

Local Rules for Summary Judgment

The required rules for summary judgment motions in the District of Kansas are set forth in D. Kan. Rule 56.1. Under that rule, a party is required to set forth a concise statement of material facts in separately numbered paragraphs and must refer to record with particularity.[2] In addition, the content or substance of the evidence must be admissible, and hearsay testimony that would be inadmissible at trial may not be included.[3] In this case, Plaintiff’s facts are frequently not supported by competent evidence. Numerous times, he cites to his Complaint as support for his position even though his Complaint sets forth hearsay statements. Furthermore, the statement of facts is not the place for argument. Plaintiff frequently attempts to controvert Defendants’ factual statements by argument. Sometimes, he controverts a one-sentence factual statement with over four pages of argument and purported additional, immaterial and inadmissible facts.

Although Plaintiff is pro se, and the Court must afford him some leniency in his filings, [4]he is still expected to “follow the same rules of procedure that govern other litigants.”[5] The Court reviewed Plaintiff’s purported facts and whether those facts were supported by the record. The Court sets forth below the uncontroverted, material facts that were supported by admissible evidence.

Facts

The University of Kansas, a state educational institution and separate state agency, is funded in part by the State of Kansas. The Kansas Board of Regents controls and supervises the University of Kansas. The University of Kansas, School of Law (“the School of Law” or “Law School”), is an academic unit within the University of Kansas.

Gail Agrawal was the Dean of the School of Law from August 2006 until June 2010. During that period, Dean Agrawal was an employee of the University of Kansas. In 2009-2010, Stephen Mazza was Associate Dean at the School of Law. In June 2010, he was named interim Dean of the School of Law, and in April 2011, he was named Dean. Mazza was an employee of the University of Kansas at all times in his various capacities with the School of Law.

Andy Tompkins is the President and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents. Bernadette Gray-Little, Chancellor of the University of Kansas, assumed her duties as Chancellor in August 2009, and she is an employee of the University of Kansas. Joyce McCray Pearson was a faculty member, and thus an employee, of the School of Law in 2009-2010. Pearson was also the Chair of the University Judicial Board during 2009-2010. Wendy Rohleder-Sook was employed by the School of Law as Associate Dean for Student Affairs in 2009-2010.

Plaintiff Robert Brown filed an application for admission to the School of Law on April 8, 2009. The application contained the following questions under “Character & Fitness”:

[27]c. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a felony, misdemeanor or infraction other than a traffic violation? (include diversions, sealed or expunged records, and juvenile offenses)
d. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a traffic violating [sic] involving alcohol or a controlled substance? (include diversions, sealed or expunged records, and juvenile offenses)
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, please explain on a separate sheet or electronic attachment submitted with your application and provide the date, nature of the offense or proceeding, name and location of the court or tribunal, and disposition of the matter.[6]

Brown answered “no” to these questions.

The application also included the following certification, which Brown acknowledged by his electronic submission of the application:

I certify, that, to the best of my knowledge, the information stated in this application and in any supporting documents submitted is true and complete. I understand that falsification, misrepresentation or failure to supply required information in connections [sic] with this application is sufficient cause for denial of my application or dismissal from the School of Law. I understand that I have the duty to notify the Office of Admissions if there are any changes in my answers after this application is submitted.

Brown also submitted the “Certification Letter, ” which he signed, with his application, and this letter included the following statements:

I certify that the information I have provided is true and complete; that I will notify the Office of Admissions immediately if there is any change in the information that I have provided in this application; that I am the author of the statements or additional information included with this application; and that I understand the statements made herein are the basis upon which my application will be decided. In the event that any information is subsequently found to be false, I understand that my admission may be voided and my matriculation canceled. I understand that I have a duty to notify the Office of Admissions in writing if there are any changes in my answers after this application is submitted.
I understand that admission is conditional upon meeting the requirements stated in the University of Kansas School of Law catalog, and any further conditions expressed at the time of admission. The School of Law does not authorize nor is it bound by any requirements or conditions other than those communicated by the Office of Admissions.[7]

On April 15, 2009, Brown was offered a spot on the School of Law’s waitlist. On April 21, 2009, Brown accepted the placement on waitlist by submitting the Law School’s standard form. By letter dated May 17, 2009, Brown provided additional materials to supplement his application for admission to the School of Law, including a statement about his specific interest in the School of Law and additional optional essay.

On August 19, 2009, Brown was offered admission to the School of Law’s fall 2009 entering class. Brown submitted a seat deposit fee waiver form to the School of Law on August 20, 2009, and was admitted. The first day of classes for the Fall 2009 academic term at the University of Kansas was August 20, 2009.

On August 27, 2009, after the start of classes at the School of Law, Brown submitted a letter stating that he would like to amend his law school application. He stated that he did not consider his entire lifespan when he previously answered the questions. Amending his answer to question 27, he disclosed the following criminal convictions:

Case No

Tribunal

Charge

Finding

96DV290

Jo Co Dist Ct

Domestic Battery

Guilty

96DV740

Jo Co Dist Ct

Domestic Battery

Guilty

90????

Jo Co Dist Ct

DUI

Guilty

79????

Shawnee Co

DUI

Guilty[8]

On August 27, 2009, in response to Brown’s letter, Associate Dean Wendy Rohleder-Sook asked Brown to provide a further explanation regarding the criminal matters that he had disclosed on that date. Dean Agrawal was involved in this decision to ...


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