United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Saint Louis University's
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint (ECF No. 14). This
matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.
Ahmed Soueidan ("Soueidan") was enrolled as a
doctoral student at Saint Louis University ("SLU")
in the Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology
in 2012. (Complaint ("CompL"), ECF No. 1,
¶¶l, 7). SLU represented to Soueidan that he would
earn his Ph.D. in mechanical aerospace engineering in four
years. (CompL, ¶8). Soueidan met with the department
chair in August 2012, and together they drafted a plan for
Soueidan to graduate with his doctoral degree in four years.
(CompL, ¶9). Soueidan, however, was unable to find a
Ph.D advisor who had research or funding to supervise his
graduate studies. (CompL, ¶IO). In December 2013,
Professor Raymond Lebeau ("Lebeau") agreed to act
as Soueidan's Ph.D. advisor. (Compl., ¶12). Lebeau
indicated that he could get Soueidan through the program in
two more years, even though he had no research or funding for
him. (Compl., ¶12). Due to Lebeau's uncertainty
regarding the requisite qualifying examination for Soueidan,
Lebeau referred Soueidan to the SLU Graduate Student Handbook
("the Handbook"). (Compl., ¶13). Professor
Lebeau later told Soueidan to disregard the Handbook.
August 2014, the graduate coordinator, graduate programs
assistant, department chair (who drafted Soueidan's plan
of study), and several professors within the department, left
SLU simultaneously. (Compl., ¶14). By August 2015, the
graduate programs' assistant and the Dean of the College
of Engineering left their positions. (Id.). As of
then, Soueidan had completed ten graduate-level courses to
fulfill the course credits requirement for his Ph.D., as
stated in the Handbook. (Id.).
2015, Lebeau told Soueidan that he needed to attend a
conference to prepare for his qualifying examination. Lebeau
and Soueidan attended the AIAA SciTech 2016 conference in San
Diego, California, where Soueidan presented his thesis work.
(Compl., ¶15). In May 2016, Soueidan met with the
graduate coordinator and Lebeau to discuss preparing for
Soueidan's qualifying examination. (Compl., ¶16). A
few months later, after Soueidan's practice examination,
Lebeau told Soueidan that two of the committee members said
Soueidan would not pass his examination. (Compl., ¶16).
A third committee member said he would have passed Soueidan.
August 2016, Soueidan took the actual qualifying examination.
(Compl., ¶17). One committee member told Soueidan before
the examination that he did not follow the guidelines for
writing his paper and questioned his preparedness for the
examination. (Id.) After Soueidan did not pass the
examination, Soueidan was instructed to take another written
examination and perform additional course work. (Compl,
¶18). In the fall of 2016, Soueidan downgraded to a
Master's degree after over four years in the Ph.D.
program. (Compl., ¶19).
refers to several sections of the Handbook that he claims
were not followed during his matriculation through the Ph.D.
• "You should have an advisor assigned within the
first few weeks of classes starting." (Compl.,
• Students are to meet with their advisor in January to
complete their Annual Student Review. This review provides an
opportunity to "have a review of [his] work completed,
create goals for the next year of studies and research, and
ensure you are staying on track for graduation."
• For Engineering students, the Qualifying Exam is
scheduled after 2 semesters, " and that "[t]he
Qualifying Exam is designed to determine if the student is
prepared to continue Ph.D studies and carry on with
research." (Compl., ¶31).
2015-2016 SLU Graduate Education Catalog ("the
Catalog") indicates that the Parks College of
Engineering has a Ph.D. program. (Compl., ¶22). Soueidan
alleges, "[h]owever, in practice, students who register
for the SLU College of Engineering Ph.D. program are faced
with insurmountable hurdles that make it essentially
impossible to actually obtain a Ph.D." (Compl.,
¶34). Soueidan states that he has been damaged by nearly
$200, 000.00 in tuition payments, the difference in the value
of a Ph.D. over his career, and the loss of four years or
more of his career. (Compl., ¶¶36, 42, 43).