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Yu v. Idaho State University

United States District Court, D. Idaho

April 30, 2018

JUN YU, Plaintiff,
IDAHO STATE UNIVERSITY, and JOHN/JANE DOES I through X, whose true identities are presently unknown, Defendants.



         Pending is Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration of Court's Order Re Plaintiff's Second Through Eighteenth Causes of Action (Dkt. 68), seeking reconsideration of this Court's Memorandum Decision and Order Re Defendant's Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 63) dismissing those claims. Having reviewed the briefing and supporting filings, and otherwise being fully advised, the Court enters the following Decision and Order:

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Jun Yu (“Yu”) is a Chinese national who matriculated into the Doctoral Clinical Psychology Program at Defendant Idaho State University (“ISU”) in 2008. First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 14-16 (Dkt. 41). By mid-2012, all that remained for Yu to complete the requirements of the program was a successful clinical internship. Id. ¶ 75, 161. Yu coordinated with ISU and the prestigious Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism (“CCCA”) in Cleveland, Ohio to develop a customized internship that would allow him to fulfill his final graduation requirement. Id. ¶ 87. He started the internship, which was designed to last for at least twelve months, on January 2, 2013. Id. ¶¶ 107, 108 (Dkt. 41).

         Yu did not complete the internship, as he was dismissed from the CCCA in approximately April of 2013. Id. ¶ 130. In May of 2013, ISU told Yu that the graduate faculty of the Psychology Department had voted to dismiss him from its doctoral program. Id. ¶ 6, 136. After various unsuccessful voluntary appeals, Yu received a letter from ISU's Graduate School Dean dated October 2, 2013 that denied Yu's final appeal and stated that his dismissal was effective immediately. Id. ¶¶ 7-10; see also Pl.'s Resp. Exhibit PR1-8 (Dkt. 56-12) (the letter).

         Yu initiated this action on September 16, 2015 by filing his Complaint against ISU, alleging liability for violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, deprivations of his constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Compl. ¶¶ 170-181 (Dkt. 1). On March 29, 2017, he filed an Amended Complaint, expanding his § 1983 claim to include allegations that ISU denied both his procedural due process rights (Count Two) and his substantive due process rights (Count Four). First Am. Compl. ¶¶ 354-359, 363-367 (Dkt. 41). He also added counts related to promissory estoppel and claims arising in contract law, bringing a total number of eighteen claims. Id. ¶¶ 368-435.

         Both the Complaint and the First Amended Complaint name ISU and “John/Jane Does I through X, whose true identities are presently unknown” as defendants. Compl. (Dkt. 1); First Am. Compl. (Dkt. 41). Yu did not timely move to amend to substitute any Doe defendants or join additional defendants, and the deadline to do so has passed. Second Am. Case Mgmt. Order 1 (Dkt. 29). Further, Yu did not name as a defendant any individuals associated with ISU, whether acting in an official capacity or not.

         ISU moved for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of all eighteen claims. As relevant here, ISU argued that ISU is immune from suit under the Eleventh Amendment for counts two through eighteen. This Court agreed with ISU, granted in part ISU's motion for summary judgment, and dismissed Yu's second through eighteenth claims. (Dkt. 63.) Yu now moves for reconsideration of that decision. (Dkt. 68.) For the reasons below, the Court denies Yu's motion.


         A motion for reconsideration of summary judgment may be granted where: (1) the motion is necessary to correct manifest errors of fact or law; (2) the moving party presents newly discovered evidence; (3) reconsideration is necessary to prevent manifest injustice; or (4) there is an intervening change in the law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e); see also Turner v. Burlington N. Santa Fe R. Co., 338 F.3d 1058, 1063 (9th Cir. 2003); and 389 Orange St. Partners v. Arnold, 179 F.3d 656, 661 (9th Cir. 1999).


         Yu moves the Court to reconsider its Memorandum Decision and Order granting ISU partial summary judgment by dismissing claims two through eighteen of Yu's operative complaint. (Dkt. 68.) He contends both that there is an intervening change in the law and that reconsideration is necessary to prevent manifest injustice. Mem. ISO Mot. for Recons. 3 (Dkt. 68-1). He bases his argument on a recent ruling in Duffin v. Idaho State University, No. 4:16-CV-00209-BLW. In that case, Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued an order on December 21, 2017 concluding ISU had waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity. 2017 WL 6543873 (“Duffin” or “Duffin MDO”). Judge Winmill quoted precedent holding that “[a] state may waive its sovereign immunity through conduct that is incompatible with an intent to preserve that immunity” and that “state defendants engaged in conduct ‘incompatible with' an intent to preserve sovereign immunity when they raised a sovereign immunity defense only belatedly, after extensive proceedings on the merits.” Duffin MDO at *2 (quoting Johnson v. Rancho Santiago Cmty. Coll. Dist., 623 F.3d 1011, 1021 (9th Cir. 2010)). Yu argues that the same reasoning applies to this case. Plf.'s Mem. ISO Mot. for Reconsideration 4 (Dkt. 68-1).

         The Court disagrees. A comparison of the facts between the cases is illustrative. In Duffin, Plaintiff Orin Duffin sued ISU on May 20, 2016, alleging he suffered religious discrimination and other wrongs in 2014 and 2015. Duffin MDO at *1. Based upon stipulated deadlines, a case management order was entered setting January 30, 2017 as the dispositive motion deadline. Id. By further stipulation, that deadline was extended to July 14, 2017. Id. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the deadline. Id. ISU “raised sovereign immunity in [its] motion for summary judgment.”[1] Id. at *3. In declining to apply sovereign immunity, Judge Winmill noted that ISU's summary judgment motion was delayed by stipulation and thus was filed more than two years after the events in question. Id. Accordingly, Judge Winmill found that Duffin's claims were likely barred in state court by Idaho's two-year statute of limitations for personal injury actions. Id. (citing I.C. § 5-219(4)). Judge Winmill also found no discovery was necessary on the issue of Eleventh Amendment immunity, so ISU could have moved to apply the defense earlier. Id. Ultimately he concluded that ISU's delay in moving for sovereign immunity “was a tactical attempt to deny Duffin his day in Court, ” which, if permitted, “would fly in the face of the Rule 1 admonition that the Court construe and apply the rules and procedures in a manner that secures the just, speedy and inexpensive resolution of all disputes.” Id.

         In this case, Yu seeks redress from ISU's final act dismissing him from its Graduate School on October 2, 2013. First Am. Compl. ¶ 10 (Dkt. 41); MDO Re Def.'s Renewed Mot. for Summ. J. 10 (Dkt. 63). Yu filed his complaint on September 16, 2015 (Dkt. 1). ISU first raised an Eleventh Amendment immunity defense in its answer on October 8, 2015 (Dkt. 6 p. 7).[2]Although initially set to be completed by August 3, 2016 (Dkt. 15), factual discovery was extended by stipulation to September 2, 2016. (Dkts. 19, 29, 31 (orders); Dkts. 18, 25, 30 ...

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