Quinnipiac sued by suspended frat student for breach of contract
Quinnipiac is on the receiving end of a lawsuit after suspending a student at the end of last semester.
John Demoulas, a sophomore at the university from North Andover, Massachusetts, filed civil suit against school on January 14 after he was suspended for the spring term.
The suspension came about after hazing accusations against his fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, surfaced. The fraternity was subsequently suspended. At the time, the school said in a statement that one student was expelled and two were suspended in connection with the allegations.
Now Demoulas is revealing himself as one of the suspended students, but he’s saying he was falsely accused. He will get his day in court on Monday to discuss the incident.
Here’s a timeline of events:
–Around November 11 Demoulas received a letter from Megan Buda, the director of student conduct, that he says falsely alleged that he was a threat to himself, others or property of the school. The letter didn’t identify what conduct lead Buda to make the accusations.
–Around November 25 Demoulas got another letter from Sean Kalagher, the associate dean of student affairs, that said he engaged in actions that violated the student code of conduct. However, the letter didn’t say how he did so, when the violations occurred, or what he supposedly did. It did, however, allege the following charges: that Demoulas disrupted the peace and/or rights of others; was compliment in activities that violated the code of conduct; caused physical or mental harm; coerced others; endangered others’ health and safety, and/or his own; and participated in hazing.
–On December 2 Kalagher held a meeting with Demoulas and others to discuss the alleged incidents. Demoulas was not informed with written notice of what the violations against him were prior to this meeting, which is against the school’s rules because it did not allow him to properly prepare witness statements or a defense. In fact, Demoulas says he wasn’t even told that he had the right to produce witness statements. He also wasn’t permitted to read the written charges against him or to look at his file and the investigation.
–On December 3 Demoulas received another letter from Kalagher, which was also sent to the dean of students, saying he violated student conduct, but this letter wasn’t specific either.
–At this point, Kalagher ordered that Demoulas be suspended from classes and activities from January 1, 2015 through August 16, 2015. The suspension was deferred from December 3 so that Demoulas could take his exams. He was also told that he had one day to appeal the suspension.
–On December 3 Demoulas exercised his right to an appeal and requested a hearing so that he could present written witness statements and present evidence exonerating him. He said he could not do this in time for the meeting the day before because he wasn’t made aware of the charges against him until that point.
–The same day he met with Monique Drucker, the associate president of student affairs, who said his appeal was denied because he didn’t present any new information that wasn’t available at the hearing the day before.
Demoulas was told that he must leave campus after exams “until further notice,” and was threatened to be charged with criminal trespass if he stepped foot on campus.
In the suit filed with the court, Demoulas’ attorney argues that when Demoulas paid his tuition he was entering into a contract with the university and that both sides had to uphold their end of the contract, which Demoulas says the university didn’t. He did not receive “fundamental fairness” promised by the school in the code of conduct when violations occurred before disciplinary action was taken.
The suit also alleges that by having Demoulas forfeit his spring semester tuition due to a suspension that the school violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act in the following ways:
Deceiving Demoulas into relying on written policies in official handbooks that the university didn’t adhere to
Unfairly applying disciplinary action in an arbitrary manner inconsistent with common meaning and interpretation and forcing Demoulas to forfeit tution
Unfairly interpreting their own disciplinary rules by handing out punishments in an oppressive and arbitrary manner that no reasonable person would believe applied to his actions
Demoulas also alleged that when the school would not hear his defense and evidence proving his innocence that the school did not adhere to the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The good faith and fair dealing clause means that when a contract is signed that both parties promise to deal with each other honestly, fairly and in good faith in a way that doesn’t prevent the other party from receiving benefits of the contract. By not returning Demoulas’ tuition, he says they violated this principle.
Demoulas is asking for a minimum of $15,000, and to be reinstated in school for the spring semester because not doing so tarnishes his reputation and makes it more difficult for him to get into other schools in the future.
The four parties named in the suit include Megan Buda, Sean Kalagher, Monique Druker and Mark Thompson, the executive vice president and provost for the school.