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Oladokun v. Ryan

October 23, 2007

SULAIMAN OLADOKUN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOHN R. RYAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS PRESIDENT OF STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK MARITIME COLLEGE, KIMBERLY R. CLINE, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS VICE PRESIDENT: FOR ADMINISTRATION AND/OR CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER OF STATE OF NEW YORK MARITIME COLLEGE, AND RICHARD S. SMITH, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS COMMANDANT OF CADETS OF: STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK MARITIME COLLEGE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: X Wood, U.S.D.J.

Opinion and Order

Plaintiff Oladokun brings this action against Defendants John R. Ryan, Kimberly R. Cline, and Richard S. Smith pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants disenrolled him from the State University of New York Maritime College ("SUNY Maritime") in violation of his rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. By motion dated October 2, 2006, Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1). For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

I. Background

A. The Parties

Plaintiff, a Nigerian citizen, was an Engineering student at SUNY Maritime from August 30, 2000 until March 26, 2003, when he was disenrolled.*fn1 He was deported on January 29, 2004 due to his failure to maintain student status as required under his student visa.

Defendant Ryan was the President of SUNY Maritime at the time of Plaintiff's disenrollment, and is currently the Chancellor of the State University of New York. He is sued both individually and in his official capacity. Defendant Cline was Maritime College's Vice President/Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff at the time of Plaintiff's disenrollment, and is currently Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer of the State University of New York. She is sued both individually and in her official capacity. Defendant Smith is SUNY Maritime's Commandant of Cadets. He is sued only in his official capacity.

B. Plaintiff's Apprehension and Disenrollment

On or about March 7, 2003, two Joint Terrorism Task Force agents apprehended Plaintiff, based on their suspicion that he had submitted false documents in obtaining a student visa. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") held Plaintiff in custody while they investigated the validity of his documents.

On March 25, 2003, while Plaintiff was still being held in federal custody, ICE attorney Anna Gbur sent Defendant Cline a fax requesting information about Plaintiff's enrollment status at SUNY Maritime. The next morning, on March 26, 2003, SUNY Maritime's "Suitability Board" held a hearing in Plaintiff's absence. This hearing allegedly took place without notice to Plaintiff and in violation of SUNY Maritime's own rules. See Compl. ¶¶ 17, 25, 26.

In its hearing, the Suitability Board considered Plaintiff's "suitability as a member of the Regiment of Cadets." See Compl. ex. 3. The Suitability Board also acted as a "Disciplinary Board" to consider charges by SUNY Maritime of "Deceit and Falsehood" by Plaintiff, as well as charges that Plaintiff had altered official documents and was in possession of altered official documents. See id. In a one-sentence opinion, the Suitability Board stated that it had considered the charges against Plaintiff, "deem[ed] them to be true," and recommended that Plaintiff be immediately disenrolled. See id. That same day, Defendant Smith signed a memo concurring with the Suitability Board's decision and thereby officially disenrolling Plaintiff. See Compl. ex. 4. Also on the same day, Defendant Cline sent Ms. Gbur a fax stating that Plaintiff had been disenrolled. See id. Plaintiff did not have any opportunity to make a statement before his final disenrollment. See Compl. ¶¶ 29-30.

Plaintiff also alleges that according to SUNY Maritime's Organization, Operations, and Regulations Manual ("SUNY Maritime's Manual"), Defendant Ryan, as President, was responsible for convening the Suitability Board, ensuring that his convening order was hand-delivered to Plaintiff, and rendering the final disenrollment decision. Defendant Ryan allegedly did not follow these procedures.*fn2 See Compl. ¶¶ 24-26, 29-30.

Following Plaintiff's disenrollment from SUNY Maritime, Ms. Gbur filed an additional charge against Plaintiff for removability, stating that he was deportable because he had failed to maintain his student status as required under his student visa. Plaintiff was deported to Nigeria on January 29, 2004, on the basis of this new charge. See Compl. ¶¶ 19-20.

II. Discussion

A. Rule 12(b)(6) Motion

A defendant may move to dismiss a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted. In weighing a motion to dismiss, the Court must "accept[] as true the factual allegations in the complaint and draw[] all inferences in the plaintiff's favor." Allaire Corp. v. Okumus, 433 F.3d 248, 249-50 (2d Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks omitted). "[W]hen a complaint adequately states a claim, it may not be dismissed based on a district court's assessment that the plaintiff will fail to find evidentiary support for his allegations or prove his claim to the satisfaction of the factfinder." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1969 n.8 (2007).

Defendants argue that the Complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim because (1) the Complaint does not allege sufficient personal involvement by Defendants; (2) the Complaint does not state a cognizable due process claim; (3) Defendants are immune from civil rights actions seeking money ...


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