plaintiff has not set forth a claim of fraud. Fraud consists of a false representation which deceives another so that he relies on it and acts upon it to his legal injury. Baker v. Rangos, 229 Pa. Super. 333, 348; 324 A.2d 498, 505 (1974). The plaintiff himself testified that he did not believe the defendant's alleged fraudulent statements when she uttered them because it was unbelievable to think all the exams had been graded one or two days after the test. This testimony controverts the claim by the plaintiff that he relied on the alleged fraudulent statement.
Finally, the withdrawal and release agreement is not void for reasons of duress. Repetitive questioning, both on direct and on cross, has revealed that in drafting and signing the agreement Mr. Petock acted on his own initiative, in a free and unconstrained manner, as an experienced attorney, with the time and opportunity to reflect upon his actions and/or to consult other attorneys. There has been no showing that Mr. Petock executed the agreement under duress.
The plaintiff has attempted to show that the defendants have breached express and implied contractual obligations to the plaintiff. Given the validity of the release and withdrawal agreement, as discussed above, the plaintiff's claims in contract law must fail. The executed agreement of March 24, 1983 states that Michael Petock and Thomas Jefferson University "do hereby release, remise, quit claim and forever discharge each other from all causes of action, suits, debts, tuitions, sums of money, dues, contracts, controversies, agreements, promises and demands whatsoever both at law and equity which either party has or ever had against the other and from any other claim or by reasons of any other cause, matter or thing, whatsoever, from the beginning of the world to the date of this SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT AND RELEASE."
Furthermore, even if the parties had not executed a valid settlement contract, the plaintiff's claims would fail as a matter subject to directed verdict. The plaintiff asserts he was graded and evaluated arbitrarily and capriciously, in violation of his contractual rights as a student of the defendant University. However, the plaintiff has not met his burden of showing that the academic evaluations were not rationally based on, or related to, the quality of his work. See Mauriello v. Univ. of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 781 F.2d 46 slip op. at 11-13 (3d Cir. January 14, 1986). Witness after witness revealed the standard academic criteria the defendants used to evaluate the plaintiff's work, and the standard administrative policies and procedures the defendants used in processing and recording the plaintiff's grades and evaluations.
In summary, the defendants' motion for a directed verdict shall be granted as to all remaining counts. Directed verdicts are cautiously and sparingly granted. Nevertheless, I have determined the motion is appropriate in this case. Evidence sufficient to warrant submission to the jury has not been presented at this trial. An order follows.
AND NOW, this 26th day of February, 1986, for the reasons stated in open court, it is ORDERED that defendants' motion for a directed verdict is GRANTED as to all remaining counts. Judgment is entered in favor of the defendants, Thomas Jefferson University and Stephanie W. Naidoff, and against plaintiff, Michael F. Petock.
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