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LEWIS v. RUSSE

May 26, 1989

MARTIN EDWARD LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
HENRY P. RUSSE, M.D., RUSH MEDICAL COLLEGE, RUSH-PRESBYTERIAN-ST. LUKE'S MEDICAL CENTER, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BUA

 NICHOLAS J. BUA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE:

 In his pro se complaint, plaintiff alleges that racial animus motivated defendants to dismiss him from medical school. Plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief. He also moves for the appointment of counsel. In response to this lawsuit, defendants move for dismissal of plaintiff's complaint or, alternatively, for summary judgment on plaintiff's claims. After reviewing defendants' arguments, this court dismisses plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Title VII; but the court denies defendants' motion for pretrial disposition of plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Title VI. Now that some of plaintiff's claims have survived a motion to dismiss, the court grants plaintiff's motion for appointment of counsel.

 FACTS

 Defendant Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center ("Rush-Presbyterian") owns and operates defendant Rush Medical College, an accredited medical school located in Chicago. Established in 1969 as a private institution, Rush Medical College maintains no affiliation with the State of Illinois.

 Plaintiff Martin Lewis, who is black, enrolled at Rush Medical College in the fall of 1983. During the period of Lewis' matriculation, the school permitted its students to rectify any course failures by taking makeup examinations. Under this makeup policy, however, each student could only take two makeup exams per quarter. Because Lewis failed more than two courses in each of his first three quarters, the school's makeup policy precluded him from expunging all failing grades from his record. School officials strictly enforced the makeup policy in Lewis' case, denying his request to take additional makeup exams. Lewis alleges, however, that the school exempted white students from the restrictions imposed by the makeup policy. According to Lewis, certain white students in his class received permission to take extra makeup exams in order to purge their records of any failures.

 At the conclusion of the 1983-84 school year, Lewis' academic record at Rush Medical College included several failures. Based on these failures, the school's Committee on Student Evaluation and Promotion ("COSEP") recommended that Lewis repeat his entire first year, including the courses he had already passed. Acting on COSEP's recommendation, defendant Henry P. Russe, M.D., the school's dean, required Lewis to retake the full first-year curriculum during the 1984-85 school year. Dr. Russe imposed this same requirement on two of Lewis' classmates, a black man and a woman of Arab descent.

 In his second attempt to satisfy the first-year academic requirements, Lewis failed several courses. Following the 1984-85 school year, COSEP held a hearing to determine whether Lewis should remain enrolled at Rush Medical College. After hearing Lewis' testimony, COSEP voted to recommend Lewis' dismissal. Lewis then appealed to the Faculty Council, which voted unanimously to uphold COSEP's recommendation. Dr. Russe concurred in the recommendations of COSEP and the Faculty Council. Citing Lewis' deficient academic record, Dr. Russe officially dismissed Lewis from Rush Medical College in a letter dated September 9, 1985.

 Meanwhile, at the time Lewis appealed COSEP's recommendation to the Faculty Council, he also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. In this complaint, Lewis alleged that Rush Medical College had discriminated against him on the basis of his race. After investigating Lewis' complaint, the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights ("OCR") concluded in December 1985 that Lewis' claim of racial discrimination lacked any foundation.

 During the next three years, Lewis repeatedly but unsuccessfully petitioned Dr. Russe for readmission to medical school. Then in September 1988, Lewis filed suit in federal court against Dr. Russe, Rush Medical College, and Rush-Presbyterian.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment

 In addition to invoking the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, Lewis bases his pro se complaint on the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1870, and 1964. These statutes provide four potential jurisdictional bases for Lewis' claims: 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and Title VI. Defendants contend that Lewis cannot maintain a claim under any of these four statutory provisions. In order to evaluate defendants' motion for dismissal ...


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