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Student kicked out of IU medical school loses on breach of contract claim

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An Ohio man who was in his third year at Indiana University School of Medicine when he was dismissed for allegedly cheating couldn’t convince the Indiana Court of Appeals to overturn summary judgment for the school on his breach of contract claim.

Three professors saw Peter F. Amaya repeatedly glance to his right during a mini-block examination in March 2010 and believed he was cheating. Amaya denied he cheated, claiming he was looking up at a clock on the wall. At a show cause hearing before the Student Promotions Committee, Amaya made a PowerPoint presentation and provided other materials to support his claim.

A field test conducted in the testing room concluded the professors could tell when a student was looking up at the clock or over at another student’s exam. In June 2010, the SPC recommended Amaya be dismissed for failure to maintain acceptable professional standards; the SPC declined to reverse its recommendation, and the school’s dean, D. Craig Brater, upheld the dismissal.

Amaya sued on several grounds, with his claims of breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing the only issues before the Court of Appeals. The trial court granted summary judgment for the medical school on these claims in April 2012.

After finding the claim for breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing doesn’t apply to this case, the judges upheld summary judgment on the breach of contract claim in Peter F. Amaya v. D. Craig Brater, M.D., in his capacity as Dean and Director of Indiana University School of Medicine; The Board of Trustees of Indiana University; et al., 49A04-1204-PL-208.

“… even assuming that an implied contract existed between Amaya and IUSM, and even assuming that IUSM failed to strictly follow the procedures outlined in all its handbooks and codes or to publish its procedures in specific accordance with accreditation standards as asserted by Amaya, that does not automatically lead to a finding of breach of contract on the part of IUSM,” Judge Terry Crone wrote. “It is well settled that before a court will intervene into the implied contractual relationship between student and university, there must be some evidence that the university acted arbitrarily or in bad faith. Amaya has failed to designate any such evidence here.”

The medical school followed its published procedures for dismissal and there is no evidence designated that the school’s decision to dismiss Amaya was arbitrary, capricious or made in bad faith, the judges held.

 

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