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Yu v. Idaho State University

Supreme Court of Idaho

July 10, 2019

JUN YU, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
IDAHO STATE UNIVERSITY, MARK ROBERTS, individually and his official capacity as a faculty member of Idaho State University; SHANNON LYNCH, individually and in her official capacity as a faculty member of Idaho State University; KANDI TURLEY-AMES, individually and in her official capacity as a faculty member of Idaho State University; CORNELIS J. VAN DER SCHYF, individually and in his official capacity as a faculty member of Idaho State University, and JOHN/JANE DOES I through X, whose true identities are presently unknown, Defendants-Respondents.

          Appeal from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bannock County. Robert C. Naftz, District Judge.

         The district court's order is affirmed.

          Idaho Employment Law Solutions, Eagle, for appellant. Ronaldo A. Coulter argued.

          Kelly Law, PLLC, Garden City, for respondents. Michael E. Kelly argued.

          BRODY, Justice.

         Jun Yu appeals the dismissal of his claims for alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and breach of contract. Idaho State University dismissed Yu from its doctoral program in clinical psychology in May 2013, with his final administrative appeal denied on October 2, 2013. While Yu originally filed his claims against ISU in the federal district court, he brought an identical state action nearly five years after his dismissal from the program once the federal court dismissed most of his claims. We affirm the district court's dismissal of Yu's claims because they were untimely.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Jun Yu is a citizen of the People's Republic of China who was completing his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Idaho State University. He completed all the requisite coursework, wrote and defended his dissertation, but still had to complete a one-year clinical internship. After not matching any programs with the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers, Yu set up an alternative internship with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism in Ohio. However, he was dismissed from the Ohio internship early due to performance concerns and subsequently dismissed from Idaho State University's doctoral program on May 3, 2013. After exhausting his appeals with the university, Yu received a final letter on October 2, 2013, that denied his appeal and immediately made his dismissal effective.

         On March 10, 2014, Yu filed a notice of tort claim against ISU pursuant to the Idaho Tort Claims Act (ITCA), alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress and a violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Right Act. Eighteen months later he filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho alleging violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, deprivation of constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. section 1983, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Yu later amended his complaint to include allegations of denial of procedural and substantive due process, promissory estoppel, and breach of contract, totaling 18 claims against ISU. No individual defendants were named in the notice of claim or in his federal action.

         Yu later argued before the federal district court that he was prompted to amend his complaint because of expert reports issued after the litigation commenced. Three experts in psychology reviewed Yu's case and concluded that ISU violated ethical and accreditation standards. Yu received these expert reports between March 13, 2016, and March 23, 2016, several months into his litigation at the federal district court. Yu then amended his federal complaint against ISU on March 29, 2017.

         ISU moved for summary judgment in the federal action and prevailed on 17 of the 18 claims because the Eleventh Amendment provided ISU with immunity from suit and Yu had not named any state officials in his complaint. Only the Title VI claim remains in federal district court. The other 17 claims were dismissed on January 26, 2018.

         On February 21, 2018, within a month of the federal district court's dismissal, and almost four years after filing his notice of tort claim against ISU, Yu filed the complaint that is at issue in this case, naming six defendants: ISU; Mark W. Roberts, ISU's Director of Clinical Training in the Psychology Department; Shannon Lynch, ISU's Chair of the Department of Psychology; Kandi Turley-Ames, ISU's Dean of the College of Arts and Letters; Cornelius J. Van der Schyf, ISU's Dean of the Graduate School; and Arthur C. Vailas, President of ISU (collectively, Defendants). The individual defendants were sued in their official and individual capacities. Yu's complaint alleged the same 17 claims previously dismissed by the federal district court: a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 claim for denial of his procedural and substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, negligent infliction of emotional distress, promissory estoppel, and 13 claims asserting breach of contract.

         On April 2, 2018, the Defendants filed a motion to dismiss this case for Yu's failure to comply with the ITCA and applicable statutes of limitation, and failure to state a claim for relief. Yu opposed the motion. The district court held a hearing, and ultimately granted Defendants' motion for dismissal. The district court determined that Yu had failed to comply with the ITCA with respect to all individual defendants because the 2014 notice of claim was only filed against ISU. In addition, the district court ruled that the applicable statutes of limitations for both personal injury and implied contract claims barred Yu's action since the latest date the claims could have accrued was October 2, 2013, when Yu's administrative appeal challenging his dismissal from ISU was final. All of Yu's claims were dismissed with prejudice.

         Yu timely appealed the dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and breach of contract claims. While Yu states in a footnote that he also appeals the dismissal of his tort claim against ISU, but not the individually named defendants, he presents no arguments in his briefing. Because we will not review a trial court's action where the briefs contain no arguments or citations to authority, Hurtado v. Land ...


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