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GOODWIN v. KEUKA COLLEGE

June 30, 1995

ROSEMARY E. GOODWIN, Plaintiff,
v.
KEUKA COLLEGE, A Privately Owned Corporation, Dr. ARTHUR KIRK, in his official capacity as President of Keuka College, Keuka Park, New York, and PETER TALTY, M.S., O.T.R., in his official capacity as chair of the Division of Occupational Therapy, KEUKA COLLEGE, NEW YORK, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: TELESCA

 INTRODUCTION

 Plaintiff Rosemary E. Goodwin brings this action under 29 U.S.C. ┬ž 794 (the Rehabilitation act of 1973), 42 U.S.C. 12189 (the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990), and various common law contractual causes of action alleging that the defendants, Keuka College, Dr. Arthur Kirk, and Peter Talty, failed to make reasonable accommodations for her as a handicapped individual that would have allowed her to complete her educational training at Keuka College.

 Defendants move for summary judgement on the grounds that (1) plaintiff has failed to state a prima facie case against the college under either of the federal acts under which she proceeds, and (2) plaintiff's state law contract claims are insufficient as a matter of law. Specifically, defendants argue that the plaintiff failed to notify the College of her disabilities until after she was terminated from her program of study.

 BACKGROUND

 In 1988, plaintiff Rosemary Goodwin enrolled in the Occupational Therapy Program at Keuka College. The school requires the successful completion of 120 credit hours and two graded field placements prior to graduation from the program. Conversely, if a student fails two field placements, he or she is automatically terminated from the program. On August 31, 1992, plaintiff was placed at the St. Joseph's Health Center ("St. Joseph's"). Prior to this fourth and ultimately final assignment, plaintiff had failed one assignment, passed another, and was unable to complete her third assignment due to a back injury. On September 21, 1992, after an argument with her supervisor at St. Joseph's, the plaintiff, without permission, left her field assignment and never returned. On October 9, 1992 the plaintiff directed a letter to Julie Brocklehurst-Woods, a field placement coordinator for Keuka College, explaining that she would soon be evaluated to determine whether or not she had a learning disability. Plaintiff also requested that the College make specific accommodations for her under the Rehabilitation and Americans with Disabilities Acts. On or about October 27, 1992, Ms. Brocklehurst-Woods and defendant Peter Talty responded to the plaintiff in a letter explaining that plaintiff had already been terminated from the program for the dual reasons of leaving her work site and failing two placements. On November 19, 1992 plaintiff underwent psychological testing performed by Dr. Michael L. Boucher to determine whether or not plaintiff suffered from a learning disability. On November 20, 1992, Dr. Boucher issued a report to the plaintiff which stated that "Diagnostically, test results suggest facets of an Atypical Affective Disorder with accompanying anxious, atypically depressed, irritable, dissociative, and conversion features. There is also some possibility of additional features of a Mixed Personality Disorder." On March 16, 1993, plaintiff's attorney forwarded Dr. Boucher's report to defendant Talty, and requested that Keuka College reconsider its decision to terminate plaintiff from the program. On May 26, 1993 defendant Talty sent a letter to plaintiff's attorney stating that the college would not reconsider its decision. On June 14, 1994, plaintiff filed the instant action.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Motion For Summary Judgement

 Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgement "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgement as a matter of law." When considering a motion for summary judgement, all inferences and ambiguities must be resolved in favor of the party against whom summary judgement is sought. Gallo v. Prudential Residential Services, 22 F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Circ. 1194). If, after considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the court finds that no rational jury could find in favor of that party, a grant of summary judgement is appropriate. Id. at 1224.

 Defendants move for summary judgment on grounds that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim under either the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the American with Disabilities Act of 1990. Defendants argue that because the plaintiff failed to even allege that she had a learning disability until after she was terminated from the Occupational Therapy Program, she can not, as a matter of law, prove that the college terminated her from the program because of her disability or that the college failed to make reasonable accommodations for her.

 Because the court finds that there is no question of fact as to when plaintiff notified defendants of her alleged disability, and that there is no dispute that this notification took place after plaintiff had been terminated from the Occupational Therapy Program, plaintiff, as a matter of law, has failed to state a cause of action under the Rehabilitation Act or the ADA. Summary judgement is therefore granted to the defendants on those claims. Additionally, because plaintiff has failed to state a federal cause of action, the court hereby dismisses the remainder of plaintiff's claims, all of which are based on state law.

 II. Plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action under either the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the ADA of 1990.

 A. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

 Section 794 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states in ...


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