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Paulin v. The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

May 5, 2014

CYRENA CHANG PAULIN, Plaintiff,
v.
THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND HEALTH SCIENCES, Defendant

For CYRENA CHANG PAULIN, Plaintiff: Seann Patrick Malloy, LEAD ATTORNEY, Aleksandr Shubin, PRO HAC VICE, MALLOY LAW OFFICES, LLC, Bethesda, MD.

For GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND HEALTH SCIENCES, Defendant: Allyson C. Kitchel, Nicholas S. McConnell, LEAD ATTORNEYS, JACKSON & CAMPBELL, P.C., Washington, DC.

Page 10

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Gladys Kessler, United States District Judge.

Cyrena Chang Paulin (" Paulin" or " Plaintiff" ) filed this action against The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (" the University" or " Defendant" ) for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. On September 26, 2013, after an eight-day trial, a seven-member jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendant on both counts.

On October 23, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion for New Trial [Dkt. No. 97]. Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition [Dkt. No. 98], Reply [Dkt. No. 99], and the entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's Motion for New Trial shall be denied.

I. BACKGROUND[1]

Paulin enrolled in the Physician Assistant degree program (" PA program" ) at the University in August 2007. The relationship between Paulin and the University was governed by the School of Medicine and Health Sciences Bulletin (" Bulletin" ). Jt. Ex. 1. The parties agree that a valid contractual relationship existed between them and was governed by the contents of the Bulletin.

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Paulin's course of study included Evidence Based Medicine (" EBM" ) I, a course designed to teach students how to access and analyze current medical research and literature in order to stay up to date with developing treatments. Paulin also received credit for EBM II and III, which were one-credit courses designed to be taken online during the students' clinical year. However, EBM II and III were never actually taught, although all the students, including Paulin, were given " A" s on their transcripts for those two courses.

By August of 2010, Paulin had completed every requirement for graduation from the PA program except the final clinical rotation and the program's final cumulative exam. She was removed from her final clinical rotation because of insufficient medical knowledge and interpersonal problems with her supervisors. Paulin received a failing grade in that course and was subsequently dismissed from the PA program.

On January 19, 2012, Paulin filed a Complaint against the University. In Count One, she claimed that the University had breached its contract with her in five different ways. Compl. ¶ 85 [Dkt. No. 1]. Plaintiff did not, however, allege that the failure to teach EBM II and III was itself a breach of contract.

In Count. Two, Paulin alleged that the University breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing inherent in all contracts in the District of Columbia by " making it impossible for the Plaintiff to realize the benefit of her contract and by permitting its agents to act in bad faith and in a manner which interfered with the Plaintiff's contractual expectations." Id. ¶ 92. She did not seek a return of her tuition, but instead sought reinstatement in the program and damages for lost earning capacity. Id.

On September 16, 2013, the case went to trial. The Court bifurcated the trial into a liability phase and a damages phase. Minute Order of Sept. 16, 2013. Plaintiff called only four witnesses in her case-in-chief: Paulin, Dr. Jacqueline Barnett, Dr. Venetia Orcutt (whose de bene esse deposition testimony was played for the jury), and Dr. Elizabeth Blomenberg (same).[2] On September 26, 2013, after completion of the ...


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