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GUNDLACH v. REINSTEIN

April 11, 1996

FREDERICK W. GUNDLACH, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERT J. REINSTEIN, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOYNER

 Joyner, J.

 April 11, 1996

 I. BACKGROUND

 The pro se plaintiff in this diversity case is Frederick W. Gundlach, a New Jersey citizen and 1993 graduate of the Temple University School of Law, a publicly funded institution located in Philadelphia (the "law school"). On November 2, 1995, Mr. Gundlach filed this action against Temple University; the law school; Robert J. Reinstein, the dean of the law school and a vice president of Temple University; and Adelaide Ferguson, an assistant dean at the law school (collectively, "Defendants"), alleging that Defendants are liable to him under the theories of breach of contract and interference with contractual relations. Defendants filed a summary judgment motion based solely on the pleadings on January 3, 1996, *fn1" and argue that (1) the complaint does not sufficiently set forth a cause of action for breach of contract; and (2) the interference with contractual relations claim is time-barred.

 After a furious exchange of briefings and counter-briefings on the summary judgment issue, Defendants filed their answer on January 31, 1996. Defendants attached as exhibits to the answer two of Mr. Gundlach's communications with Defendants concerning matters relevant to this suit. Mr. Gundlach contends that Defendants violated the law by releasing these letters to the Court. Further, he contends that Defendants violated his civil rights by refusing to turn over relevant medical records. Accordingly, Mr. Gundlach submitted a pleading entitled "Joinder of Claims pursuant to Rule 18," by which he seeks to add four new claims to his complaint. Defendants responded with a motion to strike the "joinder" pleading. Thus, this Memorandum and Order resolves Defendants' summary judgment motion and their motion to strike, as well as Mr. Gundlach's "joinder" pleading. *fn2"

 The thrust of the complaint is that in January and February of 1993, during Mr. Gundlach's final semester of study at the law school, Defendants arbitrarily forced him to withdraw from all but one of his classes and allowed him to visit the law school campus only to the extent necessary for him to attend the one class and sit for the final examination. *fn3" Thus, Mr. Gundlach was denied access to law school facilities such as the library and the career placement office. In this way, according to the complaint, Defendants breached the contract they had allegedly entered with Mr. Gundlach when he paid his tuition and matriculated. Moreover, Mr. Gundlach asserts that Defendants interfered with his attempts to secure employment by denying him meaningful access to the career placement office and by waiting until November of 1993 before certifying him for admission to the bar. *fn4"

 II. DEFENDANTS' SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION

 A.

 The Contract Claim

 Defendants have challenged the legal sufficiency of the complaint. Thus, we must examine whether the plaintiff has set forth facts which state a claim as a matter of law. Taha v. INS, 828 F. Supp. 362, 364 (E.D. Pa. 1993). The court must accept as true all of the factual averments in the complaint and extend to the plaintiff the benefit of every favorable inference that can be drawn from those allegations. Schrob v. Catterson, 948 F.2d 1402, 1405 (3d Cir. 1991); Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990). Thus, a complaint is properly dismissed only if it appears certain that the plaintiff cannot prove any set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Ransom v. Marrazzo, 848 F.2d 398, 401 (3d Cir. 1988).

 Mr. Gundlach asserts that he is entitled to relief as a result of Defendants' alleged breach of contract. In order to plead a proper claim for breach of contract under Pennsylvania law, a plaintiff must allege: (1) the existence of a valid and binding contract to which he and the defendants were parties; *fn5" (2) the contract's essential terms; (3) that he complied with the contract's terms; (4) that the defendants breached a duty imposed by the contract; and (5) damages resulting from the breach. Cottman Transmission Sys., Inc. v. Melody, 851 F. Supp. 660, 672 (E.D. Pa. 1994) (citing Electron Energy Corp. v. Short, 408 Pa. Super. 563, 597 A.2d 175 (1991), aff'd without op., 533 Pa. 66, 618 A.2d 395 (1992)).

 Mr. Gundlach concedes that no written contract between the parties exists. Instead, he argues that under Pennsylvania law, a binding contract between student and university automatically arises upon matriculation, pursuant to which the student is "entitled to the full benefits and privileges" associated with enrollment. Compl. P 2. A review of the relevant Pennsylvania authority reveals that a student may bring a contract action to enforce the specific promises made by his university. In Britt v. Chestnut Hill College, 429 Pa. Super. 263, 632 A.2d 557 (1993), for example, the court reversed the lower court and reinstated the plaintiff's contract claim, holding that "an institution may make a contractual obligation to a student which it is not free to later ignore." Britt 632 A.2d at 560.

 Moreover, in Cavaliere v. Duff's Business Inst., 413 Pa. Super. 357, 605 A.2d 397 (1992), the court recognized that a breach of contract action could lie against an institution in the event of a breach ...


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