United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
J. MCCONNELL, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Haddad entered the Physician's Assistant Program
("PA Program") at Bryant University in January
2016. Unable to meet the academic requirements throughout,
Bryant placed her on Academic Probation during her first term
and dismissed her from the PA Program twice. Successful
appeals of these dismissals and the flexibility Bryant showed
her in applying its policies allowed her to continue her
studies albeit through a plan of remedial assessments and
rotations. But after continuing to struggle despite the
adjustments made to her academic progression, Ms. Haddad was
dismissed from the program for the third and final time in
Haddad challenges her final dismissal through this
action's breach of contract and misrepresentation claims.
She alleges that a February 1, 2017 letter from Program
Director Jay Amrien setting forth a remediation progress plan
created a new implied-in-fact contract that Bryant breached
by dismissing her from the PA Program even though she
complied with the terms of the letter. Because the Court
finds that the February 1, 2017 letter was not a contract
governing the relationship between Ms. Haddad and Bryant,
there is no legal or factual basis for her contract or
misrepresentation claims against Bryant. The Court therefore
grants judgment to Bryant.
policies, procedures, and academic requirements are contained
in the Student Manual and Academic Policies and Procedures
("Academic Policies") documents. ECF No. 18-1 at 3.
The PA Program has two phases: a didactic phase, which
largely consists of one year of classroom learning, and a
clinical rotations phase, where students spend fifteen months
working in various medical fields. Id. at ¶ 4.
The didactic year is divided into four terms and each term
builds on the previous term's work. Id. at
¶ 5. Students must get a minimum passing grade of a 75
and maintain an overall Grade Point Average ("GPA")
of 3.0 for each term in the didactic year, Id. at
student fails a course, Bryant will place her on Academic
Probation, and she must take a remediation exam. Id.
at ¶ 7. If the student passes the remediation exam, she
will receive a 75% and will progress to the next term, but
will remain on Academic Probation. Id. at ¶ 8.
Failure to maintain a 3.0 GPA per term during the didactic
phase will result in Academic Probation; the student must
then "demonstrate continual improvement to remain in the
program as defined as an improving GPA." Id. at
¶ 9. "Students who fail to improve their overall
GPA from the previous term will be referred to the [Academic
Support and Remediation Committee] for recommended
dismissal." Id. at ¶ 9. To progress from
the didactic phase into the clinical rotations phase, a
student must have at least a 3.0 GPA. During the clinical
phase, students must achieve an 83% or above to pass each
rotation. Id. at ¶ 10. Students were required
to achieve an overall 3.0 GPA in order to graduate.
Id. at ¶ 2.
Haddad reviewed Bryant's Academic Policies and understood
that she would have to achieve a cumulative 3, 0 GPA to be
considered for graduation. Id. at ¶ 18. She had
a meeting on her first day of classes where she discussed all
aspects of the program, including academic and non-academic
standards, graduation requirements, and program policies.
Id. at ¶ 19.
Haddad failed two classes during the first didactic term but
took and earned a 75% on the remediation assignment and exam.
Id. at ¶¶ 21, 22. She still did not have
the required 3.0 GPA, so Bryant put her on Academic
Probation. Id. at ¶ 23. During her second term,
she failed four tests and her GPA remained below a 3.0 though
it did not improve from the previous term. Id. at
¶ 25. Her GPA dropped during her third term after she
failed eight tests. Id. at ¶ 26. Because Ms.
Haddad did not have the required 3.0 GPA, Bryant dismissed
her from the PA Program. Id. at ¶ 27. She
appealed her dismissal and was reinstated with the provision
that she raise her GPA to the required 3.0 by the end of the
fourth term. Id. at ¶¶ 28-29. She did not
and was dismissed for the second time. Id., at
Haddad appealed, and Bryant allowed her to go through a
remedial process that included taking a summative exam and a
PACKRAT test. Id., at ¶ 32. She failed both
exams. Id. at ¶ 34. Program Director Amrien
sent Ms, Haddad a letter, dismissing her for the third time
from the PA Program effective January 1, 2017. Id.
at 1| 35. Ms. Haddad appealed again, writing to the Provost
outlining the basis for her appeal and pledging to improve
her academic performance and detailing how she intended to so
improve. Id. at ¶ 36. The Provost decided to
defer her dismissal and allow her to get back on track by
doing a remedial clinical rotation; she met with Christopher
Ferreira, Director of Clinical Education, to discuss a
plan. Id. at ¶ 38.
Amrien wrote to Ms. Haddad on February 1, 2017, laying out
the parameters of the Remedial Rotation she discussed with
Mr. Ferreira that would allow her to progress from the
didactic program to the clinical program. Bryant expected her
to complete a remedial clinical rotation with a passing
preceptor evaluation score of her performance, to get a
passing score on the Family Medicine End-Of-Rotation Exam, to
take an additional PACKRAT exam and receive a score equal to
or greater than 379, and to complete at least 250 Rosh Review
Questions. Id. at ¶ 41. Ms. Haddad was told
that if she completed this remedial clinical rotation, she
still needed to complete all twelve clinical rotations in the
PA Program. The letter also noted that this appeal was final
and if she failed to pass any clinical rotation, she would be
dismissed. Id. at ¶ 41. She testified that she
believed that the February 1st letter set forth her personal
graduation requirement and she was not told that she still
needed to achieve an overall 3.0 GPA to graduate.
Id. at ¶ 44.
Ferreira met with Ms. Haddad again in March to discuss her
progress through the Remedial Rotation. Id. at
¶ 42. Again, the parties dispute whether Mr. Ferreira
told her that she still had to achieve an overall 3.0 GPA to
graduate," he testified that he did and noted that in
the Student Encounter Form and she denies this. Id.
at ¶¶ 42-43. While she met the four requirements
set forth in the February 1st letter, Ms. Haddad failed to
attain the 3.0 GPA that she would need to graduate and was
dismissed for a third and final time in December.
Id. at ¶¶ 48-50. She appealed this
decision based on her understanding that she did not need a
3.0 GPA to graduate, but Bryant denied her, relying on the
requirement as set forth in the Academic Policies.
Id. at ¶¶ 51-52.
Haddad filed this suit against Bryant for breach of contract
and fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation. Now Bryant
moves for summary judgment (ECF No. 16), which Ms. Haddad
opposes (ECF No. 18).
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court must look
to the record and view all the facts and inferences therefrom
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Continental Cas. Co. v. Canadian Univ. Ins. Co., 924
F.2d 370, 373 (1st Cir. 1991). Once this is done, Rule 56(c)
requires that summary judgment be granted if there is no
issue as to any material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A material fact is
one affecting ...