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Hershman v. Muhlenberg College

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

April 24, 2014

SETH HERSHMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
MUHLENBERG COLLEGE, Defendant

Page 455

For SETH HERSHMAN, Plaintiff: PETER D. HERSHMAN, WILLIAM CHARLES SHERMAN, LEAD ATTORNEYS, HERSHMAN LEGAL GROUP, NEW HAVEN, CT; LORRIE MCKINLEY, MCKINLEY & RYAN LLC, WEST CHESTER, PA.

For MUHLENBERG COLLEGE, Defendant: MICHAEL F. KRAEMER, LEAD ATTORNEY, HINCKLEY ALLEN & SNYDER LLP, PROVIDENCE, RI; NANCY A. CONRAD, LEAD ATTORNEY, WHITE AND WILLIAMS LLP, CENTER VALLEY, PA.

Page 456

MEMORANDUM

LAWRENCE F. STENGEL, J.

Seth Hershman brings this action against Muhlenberg College, his alma mater, asserting violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Currently pending is the defendant's motion to dismiss. For the reasons that follow, I will dismiss the NIED claim. Otherwise, the motion is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

Seth Hershman, plaintiff, is a former student of Muhlenberg College, defendant. In November 2010, Mr. Hershman began to suffer from depression and sought treatment at the college's counseling office. The depression continued through the Spring semester of 2011. On an unspecified date, Mr. Hershman and his parents met with college administrators to discuss Mr. Hershman's illness. The administrators advised that Mr. Hershman would be able to graduate on time if he attended classes and completed coursework.

Mr. Hershman missed an unspecified number of classes due to his depression, and as a result, he did not satisfy the attendance requirement for one class. Mr. Hershman met with the professor about his absences, but the professor refused to make any accommodation to allow the plaintiff to pass the class. Since successful completion of the class was a graduation requirement, Mr. Hershman sought to substitute credit from another course to satisfy the prerequisite, but the department chair denied plaintiff's request. Subsequently, Mr. Hershman and his parents met with the professor and administrators, but the administrators informed the Hershmans that Seth would fail the class unless he obtained a medical withdrawal.

Mr. Hershman was scheduled to graduate in May of 2011. Since Mr. Hershman did not complete the required course, he was not eligible to graduate on time. Nonetheless, the administrators assured Mr. Hershman that he would be able to walk at commencement with no public indication the he was not receiving his diploma. Mr. Hershman and his family attended the May 22, 2011 commencement ceremony. Guests received a program listing the names of all the graduates. There was an asterisk next to Mr. Hershman's name indicating a later graduation date. Mr. Hershman ultimately received his diploma from Muhlenberg in October 2011 after satisfying the graduation requirements.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

A complaint must set forth " a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). This statement must " give the defendant fair notice of what the . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)). A complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, but a plaintiff must provide " more than labels and conclusions" or " a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action" to show entitlement to relief as prescribed by Rule 8(a)(2). Id. at 1965; Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005). A defendant may attack a complaint by a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

In deciding a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the court is ...


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