United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS
lawsuit arises from Plaintiff Sean Yousaf's dismissal
from the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of
Dentistry (“the SOD”) for failing grades, amidst
accusations of cheating. The Complaint alleges the SOD and
various faculty members and school officials committed breach
of contract, violated Plaintiff's due process rights and
various civil rights laws, and also committed various torts.
before the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss (Doc.
16) for failure to state a claim.
may be dismissed if it fails “to state a claim upon
which relief can be granted.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In
ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court “must accept
as true all of the complaint's factual allegations and
view them in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff [
].” Stodghill v. Wellston School Dist., 512
F.3d 472, 476 (8th Cir. 2008). To avoid dismissal, a
complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The Plaintiff need not demonstrate the
claim is probable, only that it is more than just possible.
reviewing the complaint, the court construes it liberally and
draws all reasonable inferences from the facts in the
plaintiff's favor. Monson v. Drug Enforcement
Admin., 589 F.3d 952, 961 (8th Cir. 2009). The court
generally ignores materials outside the pleadings but may
consider materials that are part of the public record or
materials that are necessarily embraced by the pleadings.
Miller v. Toxicology Lab. Inc., 688 F.3d 928, 931
(8th Cir. 2012).
following summary is distilled from the sixty-seven page
Complaint (Doc. 1) and the fifteen exhibits (Doc. 1-1 to Doc.
1-15) totaling 196 pages attached to it. These exhibits
include SOD handbooks and policy manuals, summaries from an
investigation into the cheating accusations conducted by the
University, and emails Plaintiff exchanged with various
administrators. Ironically, some of the exhibits undermine
the Complaint's allegations.
Complaint contains nineteen counts and makes a variety of wordy
assertions and conclusions, a few of which are unrelated to
this case. The Complaint is occasionally vague and
confusing; differently numbered counts are sometimes
similarly named and make essentially the same allegations.
For example, Count 1, “Violation of Academic Policies
(SOD), ” asserts that the SOD violated Plaintiff's
due process rights by refusing to allow him to proceed on his
grade appeals. Compl. ¶¶ 141-43. Count 6,
“Violation of Academic Policies Relating to Final
Grades (SOD), ” alleges Plaintiff's final grades
were “arbitrary, capricious, and/or in bad faith”
because Plaintiff was preempted from proceeding with his
grade appeals. Compl. ¶¶ 289-92. Although the
Complaint is at times difficult to follow, the Court has
reviewed it and the materials attached to it in the light
most favorable to the Plaintiff and finds the facts relevant
to the pending motion to be as follows.
early 2018, Plaintiff was dismissed from the SOD for poor
academic performance. During the Fall 2017 academic semester,
Plaintiff had received failing grades from two instructors,
Defendants Dr. Donna Deines and Dr. Lance Godley, and a grade
of “No Credit” from Dr. Deines in a third class.
Dr. Godley also alleged Plaintiff had cheated on a re-test of
a practical exam.
faced dismissal for academic reasons pursuant to academic
standards and policies at the SOD, which provide that any
student who fails more than one course in any semester will
be dismissed. He also faced potential discipline by the SOD
Honor Council for allegedly cheating.
December 14, 2017, the SOD Honor Council advised Plaintiff
that it had decided to go forward with an official hearing on
Dr. Godfrey's cheating allegation. On December 19, 2017,
the Honor Council set a hearing date for January 17, 2018.
Plaintiff requested twice that the Honor Council hearing be
continued. Both requests were granted. The hearing was
eventually reset to February 21, 2018.
December 22, 2017, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs,
Defendant Pam Overman, sent Plaintiff a letter informing him
that his academic performance in the Fall 2017 semester had
resulted in his dismissal from the SOD. It advised him that
he had a right to appeal his dismissal to the Academic
Standards Committee, which was scheduled to meet on January
31, 2018. It also stated the following:
Should you believe that any of the grades resulting in your
dismissal were derived capriciously (the definition of which
may be found in chapter 2 of the School of Dentistry Student
Handbook), you also have the option of pursuing a grade
appeal as part of your dismissal appeal. Please be advised
that the first step of the grade appeal process is to discuss
the course grade fully with the course instructor. This must
be done within seven (7) calendar days after the beginning of
the Spring 2018 semester (which begins on Tuesday, January
If the matter cannot be resolved by consultation with the
course instructor, and you still wish to continue the grade
appeal process, you will need to submit a written request for
a hearing to me within seven (7) calendar days following
denial by the course instructor. The request will need to
give the reasons for the grade appeal (i.e. how the assigned
grade was derived capriciously) and provide relevant
Notice at 1 (Doc. 1-9). Although the Complaint asserts
Plaintiff “initiated . . . the Grade Appeal as directed
by the . . . Dismissal Notice, ” Compl. ¶ 40,
nothing in the voluminous exhibits attached to the Complaint
corroborate this bare assertion.
January 31, 2018, the Academic Standards Committee held a
hearing to determine whether dismissal was appropriate due to
his failing grades. Plaintiff presented his case for
readmittance, and Drs. Deines and Godley testified. Following
the hearing, the Committee recommended that Plaintiff not be
readmitted. The Honor Council never held a hearing regarding
the cheating allegations.
April 27, 2018, Plaintiff filed the pending lawsuit. On
November 7, 2018, the Court denied Plaintiff's request
for a preliminary injunction (Doc. 49). Among other holdings,
the Court ruled that Plaintiff was unlikely to succeed on the
All counts premised on Plaintiff having initiating a grade
appeal before January 23 are dismissed for
failure to state a claim.
1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 17, 18, and portions of Counts 11 and 16
rest on the assertion that Plaintiff initiated a grade appeal
before the deadline to do so expired. It is doubtful that the
conclusory allegation in paragraph 40 that Plaintiff
“initiated . . . the Grade Appeal as directed by the .
. . Dismissal Notice” is sufficient to survive a motion
to dismiss under Iqbal. But even if it were, the
exhibits attached to the Complaint render the claim highly
implausible. The various emails, letters, notices, agendas,
and investigation reports in the exhibits make no mention of
Plaintiff ever stating, orally or in writing, that he had
initiated any grade appeal before January 23, 2018. Although
Plaintiff asserts that he informed Dean Overman on February
12, 2018, that he had initiated grade appeals, there is no
mention of him doing so prior ...