Disabled medical student sues medical school for dismissal

Here's the story (from Omaha.com):

LINCOLN — A medical student who suffers from depression has won the right to sue the University of Nebraska Medical Center and faculty members over his dismissal from school.

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that the student, identified only as John Doe, should be allowed to pursue his claim that UNMC and its staff violated his rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act in their decision to dismiss him for failing grades and lack of professionalism.

The judges stated that while they could not say that Doe’s dismissal from school “lacked a rational basis,” they ruled that he should be given his day in court.

Douglas County District Judge J. Patrick Mullen had dismissed Doe’s lawsuit, stating that UNMC and its staff had immunity from ADA lawsuits and that faculty members had been improperly served notice of the lawsuit.

The student, who was granted a leave of absence from his second year of medical school to seek treatment, was dismissed from school after returning for third-year studies in 2005.

He had received a failing grade in one medical clerkship and was getting near-failing grades in two others.
An evaluation committee had required him to sign a contract to improve his professionalism. The student maintained that once his disability became known, faculty members discriminated against him in evaluations.
Doe, who is representing himself in the lawsuit, also claimed that he had informed one of his family medicine professors that his mental health was deteriorating and that he needed to seek treatment from his psychologist. He said that request was disregarded.

The court ruled that while the ADA does not require universities to lower their academic standards for a disabled person, federal courts have ruled that “reasonable accommodations” must be made to prevent “the persistent pattern of exclusion and irrational treatment” of such students in public education.

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