United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Southwestern Division
ROSEANN A. KETCHMARK, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
Joshua Carter (“Carter”) brings this action for
damages against Defendant The Curators of the University of
Missouri, and individual UMKC administrators, Defendants
Steven Kanter,  George Harris (“Harris”), Cary
Chelladurai (“Chelladurai”), and Kristen Kleffner
“Defendants”). Before the Court is Harris'
motion to dismiss.(Doc. 35.) The motion is fully briefed.
(Docs. 36, 38, 39.) For the reasons below, the motion to
dismiss is GRANTED in part. The Complaint is
DISMISSED as to the civil RICO claim as
time-barred by the statute of limitations. The case is
REMANDED to state court.
is a UMKC alum. In 2011, Carter enrolled in a dual-degree
program at UMKC, in which a student could obtain both an
undergraduate and medical school degree in six years (the
“Program”). On March 2, 2018, Carter filed this
lawsuit against The Curators of the University of Missouri
and individual UMKC administrators. According to the
Complaint, Carter's injury began in 2012, when Defendants
required him to extend his medical school education a year by
entering an alternate program after he received a failing
grade in a second-year course. Carter alleges that he chose
to extend his education in reliance on Defendants'
representations-made in email, in a telephone conversation,
and in a student handbook-that the additional coursework
would count toward his degree and help bolster his GPA.
Carter claims the representations were false. Defendants
subsequently refused to count the additional coursework
toward his degree or toward his GPA.
adds that from 2011 to 2016, Defendants made an additional
representation to him that student transcripts will contain
separate GPAs for undergraduate and medical school programs.
According to Carter, despite this representation, in June
2016, Defendants refused to compute separate GPAs in
Carter's transcript for his undergraduate and medical
raises one federal claim and three state law claims stemming
from Defendants' representations. Carter alleges that
Defendants committed several acts of mail and wire fraud,
thereby violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act (“RICO”) and causing him injury
(Count I). Carter alleges that Defendants' conduct in
connection with his decision to extend his medical school
education violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act
(“MMPA”) (Count II). Carter also alleges that
Defendants breached their promises to him that he would
receive a degree following completion of courses and other
requirements (Counts III and IV).
2018, Kanter, Chelladurai, and Kleffner removed the action to
this Court based on the RICO claim pursuant to federal
question jurisdiction. (Doc. 1.) Following removal, the Court
granted Carter's unopposed motion to amend his complaint
and Carter filed his First Amended Complaint (the
“Complaint”). (Doc. 27.) Harris moves to dismiss
the Complaint as time-barred and pointing out that Carter
filed suit six years after he was required to repeat a year.
Harris maintains that Carter could not file suit unless his
claims had accrued within the four or five years prior to
filing, according to the applicable limitations periods for
Carter's civil RICO claim (four years) and state law
claims (five years).
court may dismiss a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) as barred by a statute of limitations if
the complaint itself shows that the claim is
time-barred.” Hartig Drug Co. v. Ferrellgas
Partners, L.P. (In re Pre-Filled Propane Tank Antitrust
Litig.), 860 F.3d 1059, 1063 (8th Cir. 2017) (citations
omitted). In the context of a motion to dismiss, the Court
“accept[s] the well-pled allegations in the complaint
as true and draw[s] all reasonable inferences in the
plaintiff's favor.” Meiners v. Wells Fargo
& Co., 898 F.3d 820, 821 (8th Cir. 2018). Under
Missouri law, statutes of limitations are favored and any
exceptions, such as tolling, are strictly construed.
Graham v. McGrath, 243 S.W.3d 459, 464 (Mo. App.
2007); Owen v. General Motors Corp., 533 F.3d 913,
920 n.5 (8th Cir. 2008).
provides for civil actions . . . by which ‘any person
injured in his business or property' by a RICO violation
may seek treble damages and attorney's fees.”
Rotella v. Wood, 528 U.S. 549, 552 (2000) (citing 18
U.S.C. § 1964(c)). The limitations period for civil RICO
claims is four years. Klehr v. A.O. Smith Corp., 521
U.S. 179, 183 (1997) (citing Agency Holding Corp. v.
Malley-Duff & Associates, Inc., 483 U.S.
143, 156 (1987)). When civil RICO claims involve fraud, the
discovery accrual rule applies, which “dictates that
the limitations period begins to run when the facts
constituting fraud were discovered or, by reasonable
diligence, should have been discovered.” Hope v.
Klabal, 457 F.3d 784, 790 (8th Cir. 2006) (citations and
internal quotations omitted). In applying the discovery
accrual rule, “discovery of the injury, not discovery
of the other elements of a claim, is what starts the
clock.” Rotella, 528 U.S. at 555.
Court concludes that the Complaint itself shows that
Carter's civil RICO claim initially accrued more than
four years before he filed suit on March 2, 2018. Accepting
the allegations as true and viewing them in Carter's
favor, at the latest, the facts constituting fraud were
discovered by Carter by October 2013. According to the
Complaint, by October 2013, Carter was aware that the
additional coursework would not count toward a degree or
bolster his GPA despite earlier representations. Carter may
not have been aware of the full extent of his injury at this
time, but Carter knew he had been required to repeat a year
unnecessarily and he would not receive “any tangible
benefit” from the additional coursework. (Id.
at ¶¶ 36, 55-56, 58.); see Rotella, 528
U.S. at 555 (“The prospect is not so bleak for a
plaintiff in possession of the critical facts that he has
been hurt and who has inflicted the injury.”).
counter arguments do not save his RICO claim. First, Carter
asserts that the issue of when Carter discovered
Defendants' fraudulent conduct is a fact-intensive
inquiry that the Court cannot resolve at this stage of the
litigation. However, the inquiry is proper for resolution on
a motion to dismiss because the Complaint contains
allegations of when Carter discovered the facts constituting
fraud. See Hope, 457 F.3d at 790 (“Ordinarily,
a plaintiff's reasonable diligence . . . will be
questions of fact for a jury, but ‘[w]here ...