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Santos v. Trs. of Grinnell College

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 25, 2013

MARCELA S. SANTOS, also known as D.L. Santos, Plaintiff,
v.
THE TRUSTEES OF GRINNELL COLLEGE, doing business as Grinnell College, Defendant

Re Document No.: 18.

For MARCELA S. SANTOS, also known as D. L. SANTOS, Plaintiff: Enrique Santos, LEAD ATTORNEY, Rockville, MD.

For TRUSTEES OF GRINNELL COLLEGE, doing business as GRINNELL COLLEGE, Defendant: Yoora Pak, LEAD ATTORNEY, WILSON ELSER MOSKOWITZ EDELMAN & DICKER, LLP, McLean, VA; Kristi Lynette Johnson, WILSON, ELSER, MOSKOWITZ & DICKER, LLP, McLean, VA.

OPINION

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, United States District Judge.

Page 220

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Granting Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue

I. INTRODUCTION

The Plaintiff, Marcela S. Santos has brought a complaint against the Defendant,

Page 221

Trustees of Grinnell College (" Grinnell" ), for non-employment disability discrimination, breach of published college medical leave policy, promissory estoppel, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress based on a special relationship. Ms. Santos filed a related suit in California centering on essentially the same subject matter. Grinnell has moved to dismiss Ms. Santos's complaint for improper venue and/or forum non conveniens, or, in the alternative, moves to transfer venue. Ms. Santos opposed this motion on the grounds that venue in the District of Columbia is proper and that the interests of justice do not favor transfer. Ms. Santos also posits that 28 U.S.C. § 1391, rather than Title VII, should govern whether venue is proper. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants Grinnell's motion to transfer the case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Ms. Santos is a twenty-two year old individual domiciled in Maryland. Am. Compl. ¶ 10. Grinnell, a nonprofit corporation incorporated in Iowa, is a liberal arts college located in Grinnell, Iowa. Def.'s Mem. at 4. Ms. Santos enrolled at Grinnell as a member of the college's 2008-2009 freshman class and arrived on campus in Iowa in August 2008. Id. at 7. Ms. Santos, who has ancillary impediments to academic progress stemming from her bipolar disorder, Am. Compl. ¶ 31, alleges that she was assured by Grinnell that she would be provided an on-campus mentor to help neutralize her condition. Id. ¶ 33.

Ms. Santos was to meet with her on-campus mentor, Judy Hunter, Def.'s Mem. at 6, on a weekly basis, alternating between one-on-one and group meetings with similarly situated students. Id. ¶ 35. Such meetings were to occur on-campus, in Iowa. Ms. Santos alleges that Ms. Hunter failed to track her academic progress and that she learned late in the semester that she was on the verge of failing all her courses due to missed assignments. Am. Compl. ¶ 37. Ms. Santos was then referred to Joyce Stern, Grinnell's Dean of Academic Support and Advising, id. ¶ 37, whereupon Ms. Stern received permission from Ms. Santos to contact her psychiatrist. Id. ¶ 38. Ms. Santos's psychiatrist informed Ms. Stern that Ms. Santos's medication led her to fall behind on her coursework. Id. ¶ 39. Ms. Stern then reported this information to Ms. Santos's professors and instructed Ms. Santos to seek additional time to complete her missed assignments. Id. ¶ 39. Ms. Santos and her professors, though, were unable to reach mutually agreeable accommodations. Id. ΒΆ 40. To avert a slate of failed grades, Ms. Stern allegedly provided Ms. Santos with two choices on the eve of finals: She could either complete her missed assignments within two weeks after finals or she could secure a medical leave of absence via a written ...


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