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Mohammad Javad Hajjar-Nejad v. George Washington University

August 15, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge


Plaintiff Mohammad Javad Hajjar-Nejad ("Hajjar-Nejad") commenced this action against The George Washington University ("GW") on April 9, 2010, asserting a series of claims in connection with his dismissal as a medical student from GW's School of Medicine and Health Sciences (the "Medical School") in July 2007. In the short time that the action has been pending, Hajjar-Nejad has amended his complaint twice, dropping claims and narrowing the universe of relied-upon factual allegations. In the operative iteration of his complaint-the [20] Second Amended Complaint-he asserts a single claim sounding in breach of contract. Specifically, Hajjar-Nejad claims that the written offer of acceptance provided by GW and executed by him constitutes a binding agreement between the parties and that GW breached the terms of that agreement by dismissing him from the Medical School and refusing to provide him with the contemplated educational services. At present, there are three motions pending before the Court: GW's [21] Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint ("Motion to Dismiss"); Hajjar-Nejad's [24] Motion to Reinsert Civil Rights Complaints ("Motion to Amend")*fn1 ; and a [25] Motion for Leave to Withdraw as Plaintiff's Counsel of Record ("Motion to Withdraw") by Michael W. Beasley, Esq. ("Beasley"). Upon consideration of the parties' submissions, the relevant authorities, and the record as a whole, GW's Motion to Dismiss will be granted-in-part and denied-in-part, Hajjar-Nejad's Motion to Amend will be denied, and Beasley's Motion to Withdraw will be granted.


A. Factual Background

While an undergraduate at GW, Hajjar-Nejad applied to GW's Medical School. Second Am. Compl. ("2d Am. Compl."), ECF No. [20], ¶ 9.*fn2 On November 5, 2003, the Medical School presented him with a written Offer of Acceptance, and he executed the document two days later-on November 7, 2003. Id.

The Offer of Acceptance is a single page. See id. Ex. 1 (Offer of Acceptance) at 1. It offers Hajjar-Nejad "admission to the Doctor of Medicine degree program" upon certain terms and conditions. Id. By executing the document, Hajjar-Nejad "accept[ed] the conditional offer of acceptance" for the academic year beginning in 2004. Id.

The Offer of Acceptance identifies several terms and conditions to GW's offer. Among other things, Hajjar-Nejad was required to submit additional application materials, complete his undergraduate studies with a satisfactory level of performance, demonstrate his financial ability to pay tuition and related expenses, and provide a $100 deposit and a $2,900 tuition prepayment. Id. Of particular relevance to this action, Hajjar-Nejad certified the following:

I understand that I will be subject to the Regulations for M.D. Candidates that are set forth in the [Medical School] Bulletin. As a medical student, I agree to become familiar with the Bulletin and the Regulations and to abide by them.

Id. In addition, the Offer of Acceptance includes the following clause:

I understand that the submission of false or misleading information or material omission in connection with the application process shall be grounds for withdrawing my conditional offer of acceptance to [the Medical School]. I further understand and agree that if any such submissions or omissions are discovered after matriculation in the Doctor of Medicine degree program or award of a degree, [the Medical School] has the right, in its sole discretion, to dismiss me from [the Medical School] and/or revoke my degree.

Id. Outside this narrow context, the Offer of Acceptance does not on its face purport to describe the circumstances under which Hajjar-Nejad could be dismissed from the Medical School or the scope of GW's discretion in determining when dismissal is appropriate. Nor does it purport to describe whether Hajjar-Nejad had any continuing right to attend the Medical School.

Hajjar-Nejad began his studies at the Medical School in 2004. He was a "superb" student and "excell[ed]" in his first two years. Id. ¶ 14. In April 2006, he was accepted into an honors program for third-year students by a committee of nine faculty members based on its consideration of a written essay, project proposal, mentorship, prior achievements, and strength of academic performance. Id. ¶ 15. Hajjar-Nejad participated in the honors program through August 11, 2006 and, in this period, he reported to unspecified individuals his "good faith observations" that included "limited criticisms of hospital practices." Id. ¶ 19. Around this same time period, he began to be subjected to "adverse and unwarranted comments" from faculty and students. Id. For example, on August 23, 2006, Senior Associate Dean W. Scott Schroth, M.D. ("Schroth") reported to other senior faculty that Hajjar-Nejad had "leveled criticisms" against them. Id. ¶ 20. According to Hajjar-Nejad, this act of reporting marked the beginning of a "pattern of hostility and antagonism" against him. Id.

In his third year, Hajjar-Nejad began to experience "increasingly hostile treatment" from the Medical School's faculty, and in particular James L. Scott, M.D. ("Scott"), the Dean of the Medical School. Id. ¶ 21. On October 23, 2006, Schroth, acting under Scott's direction, informed Hajjar-Nejad that he "would have to leave" the honors program and that, if he did not do so voluntarily, he would be "removed." Id. ¶ 26. At a meeting with Medical School faculty, Hajjar-Nejad stated that he believed there was no legitimate basis for the hostile treatment. Id. ¶

29. Ultimately, however, Hajjar-Nejad left the honors program. Id. ¶ 31.

Nonetheless, the alleged mistreatment of Hajjar-Nejad continued unabated. Id. ¶ 32. In February 2007, he learned that the Subcommittee on Professional Comportment (the "Subcommittee") within the Medical Student Evaluation Committee (the "MSEC") was evaluating his academic progress. Id. ¶ 33. Hajjar-Nejad characterizes the outcome of this process as "pre-determined." Id. On May 3, 2007, Hajjar-Nejad attended a Subcommittee meeting accompanied by legal counsel. Id. ¶ 34. He contends that the meeting was conducted in violation of GW's policies and regulations, though he does not specifically identify which policies or regulations are at issue. Id. He further contends that he was not permitted to ask questions, cross-examine witnesses, or to present witnesses or evidence of his own. Id.

Despite this hostile treatment, Hajjar-Nejad managed to complete the 2006-2007 academic year with passing grades and positive evaluations from his professors. Id. ¶ 35. But on June 18, 2007, the Subcommittee issued its recommendations to the MSEC. Id. ¶ 37. The contents of those recommendations are not entirely clear, though Hajjar-Nejad contends that they related only to his academic responsibilities and included requiring him to repeat any clerkship in the event he received a "low pass" grade. Id. Hajjar-Nejad contends that the recommendations were contrary to GW's "regulations and policies," though again he does not specify which regulations and policies those might be. Id.

On June 18, 2007, the MSEC held a meeting concerning Hajjar-Nejad chaired by Jeffrey S. Ackman, M.D. Id. ¶¶ 38-40. Hajjar-Nejad was accompanied by counsel but was denied leave to bring an expert witness and legal assistant. Id. ¶ 39. He did not receive a copy of the Subcommittee's recommendations until early that morning. Id. ¶ 38. Hajjar-Nejad claims that the MSEC was comprised "primarily of white students" and individuals "pre-selected" by GW. Id. ¶ 40. He contends that, contrary to the Medical School's "regulations," the MSEC did not issue written recommendations despite his requests. Id. ¶ 41.

On July 26, 2007, Hajjar-Nejad received a letter dated two weeks earlier stating that the MSEC had recommended Hajjar-Nejad's dismissal. Id. ¶ 42. The letter indicates that the MSEC held meetings on June 18, 2007 and July 9, 2007 to conduct their deliberations, and that in doing so they "review[ed] the relevant aspects of the 'Regulations for MD Candidates.'" Def.'s Mem. Ex. 2 (Ltr. from J. Akman, M.D., to J. Scott, M.D., dated July 12, 2007), ECF No. [21-3], at 1.*fn3

The letter goes on to provide as follows:

A motion was made and seconded to accept the Professional Comportment Subcommittee's report and recommendations. Serious concerns were raised about Mr. Hajjar-Nejad's professionalism, honesty and integrity, his interpersonal relationships and his capacity to work with others. Of particular concern[] were the following: Mr. Hajjar-Nejad's inability to accept responsibility for his own actions; refusal to accept instructions or constructive feedback from residents, faculty and deans; inability to work and communicate effectively with peers and residents; inadequate understanding of the commitment to and responsibility for patient care; lack of insight into personal weaknesses and areas for improvement; and, inappropriate understanding of the role of a medical student in the medical education hierarchy. In addition, the Committee noted that these concerns were not the result of an isolated incident, but appeared to be a pattern in most interactions with Mr. Hajjar-Nejad.

Id. at 2. The letter states that a "motion for dismissal" passed in a "secret ballot vote" with nine votes in favor, none ...

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