United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. DARRAH United States District Court Judge.
Jennifer DiPerna, filed a Second Amended Complaint against
Defendant, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology,
alleging breach of contract and negligence. Defendant filed a
Motion for Summary Judgment, which was granted in part and
denied in part. Plaintiff filed a partial Motion to
Reconsider , asking to reconsider the ruling on the
claim related to plagiarism. Plaintiff's Motion to
Reconsider  is denied.
is currently a resident of Ohio and is a former student of
Defendant. Defendant is a nonprofit private institution that
operated under the policies, procedures, rules, and
regulations set out in the Academic Catalogue and Student
Handbook (the “Handbook”) during the years
2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15. Plaintiff was seeking a Master
of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Defendant.
January 2015, Plaintiff attended a required Seminar course
with Dr. Kristin Davisson, an adjunct professor. A main part
of the course is the Clinical Competency Examination
(“CCE”), which must be drafted in compliance with
Defendant's plagiarism policy. Davisson believed one
portion of Plaintiff's CCE was plagiarized and ran it
through a web-based program designed to detect plagiarism,
turnitin.com. The conceptualization portion was marked by
turnitin.com as 92 percent plagiarized from other sources
without proper attribution, and the entire CCE was marked as
10 percent plagiarized from other sources without proper
attribution. Davisson reported the plagiarism to Dr. Luke
Mudd, Associate Department Chair, who then mandated referral
to the Student Affairs Committee (“SAC”). On
March 25, 2015, Plaintiff met with Davisson and Mudd to
discuss the plagiarism accusations.
12, 2015, Plaintiff had an SAC hearing in regards to the
plagiarism charges. At the hearing, Plaintiff complained
about Davisson's unprofessional breach of protocol,
unfair selective treatment, and retaliation from this
litigation. On May 13, 2015, Plaintiff was notified of the
SAC's decision to dismiss her from the program. The
referral to the SAC resulted in Plaintiff's dismissal
for reconsideration serve a limited function: to correct
manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered
evidence.” Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v.
CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1269 (7th Cir. 1996). A
manifest error “is not demonstrated by the
disappointment of the losing party”; it is the
“wholesale disregard, misapplication, or failure to
recognize controlling precedent.” Oto v.
Metropolitan Life Ins., 224 F.3d 601, 606 (7th Cir.
2000) (internal quotation marks omitted).
college and its students have a contractual relationship, and
the terms of that relationship are generally set forth in the
school's catalogues and bulletins. Raethz v. Aurora
Univ., 805 N.E.2d 696, 699 (Ill.App.Ct. 2004). A student
has a remedy for breach of contract when there has been an
adverse academic decision only where that decision was made
arbitrarily, capriciously, or in bad faith. Id.
(citing Frederick v. Northwestern University
Dental School, 617 N.E.2d 382, 387 (Ill.App.Ct.
1993)). A college or university is not liable for exercising
“its academic judgment unwisely.” Id. at
700. To constitute a breach of contract, a dismissal must be
made without any rational basis. Frederick, 617
N.E.2d at 387. A court may not override the academic decision
of a university “unless it is such a substantial
departure from accepted academic norms as to demonstrate that
the person or committee responsible did not actually exercise
professional judgment.” Regents of the University
of Michigan v. Ewing, 474 U.S. 214, 225 (1985).
alleged that the decision to dismiss her for plagiarism in
her CCE was arbitrary and capricious. Plagiarism is defined
by the Handbook as:
Plagiarism is intentionally or unintentionally representing
words, ideas, or data from any source as one's own
original work. The use or reproduction of another's work
without appropriate attribution in the form of complete,
accurate, and properly formatted citations constitutes
plagiarism. Examples of plagiarism, (sic) include
but are not limited to, copying the work of another verbatim
without using quotation marks, revising the work of another
by making only minor word changes without explanation,
attribution, and citation, paraphrasing the work of another
without the appropriate citation. Students are expected to
produce original work in all papers, coursework,
dissertation, and other academic projects (including case
studies from internship or practicum sites) and to follow
appropriate rules governing attribution that apply to the
Carelessness, or failure to properly follow appropriate rules
governing source attribution (for example, those contained in
the Publication Manual of the American Psychological
Association), can be construed to be plagiarism when multiple
mistakes in formatting citations are made in the same paper.
Further, a single example of failing to use quotation marks
appropriately may be considered plagiarism.
¶ 17.) All suspected plagiarism must be immediately
referred to the Department Chair/Lead Faculty or designee,