United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendants' motion for
summary judgment. Dkt. # 12. Plaintiff opposes the motion.
Dkt. # 23. For the reasons that follow, the Court
GRANTS the motion.
case arises from Plaintiff's dismissal from the
University Of Washington School Of Medicine (“Medical
School”). Plaintiff was part of the Medical
School's Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho
(WWAMI) program. Dkt. # 13-1 at 5. As a WWAMI participant,
Plaintiff was expected to complete her first year of medical
school in Alaska, and then transfer to the Medical School in
her second year. Id. at 7. “[T]he goal of the
program is to recruit students who will return to their home
state to practice medicine.” Id. at 5.
first year of medical school, Plaintiff failed Introduction
to Immunology and Nervous System. Dkt. # 16-1 at 3. The
Medical School authorized Plaintiff to retake these exams but
warned her that “two or more Fail grades within an
academic year” is grounds for academic probation.
Id. at 23. Plaintiff explained that her Attention
Deficit Disorder and test anxiety overwhelmed her, making it
difficult to perform at her best on exams. Dkt. ## 14-1 at 9,
16-1 at 3, 23-5 at 2. The Medical School's Associate Dean
of Student Affairs, Dr. Eacker, encouraged Plaintiff to seek
accommodations for future exams based on these initial grades
and in light of Plaintiff's disabilities. Dkt. # 16-1 at
successfully sought accommodations for her future exams; the
Medical School authorized Plaintiff fifty-percent additional
time on each test as well as a reduced distraction
environment. Id. at 41. These accommodations were
precisely what Plaintiff and her physician discussed and
agreed would be effective. Dkt. ## 13-1 at 121-123, 23-5 at
2. The Medical School could not implement the accommodations
in time for Plaintiff's Hematology exam, but did so for
her Epidemiology exam. Dkt. # 14-1 at 12. Plaintiff failed
both. Dkt. # 16-1 at 72.
School faculty met with Plaintiff in February 2014 to discuss
expanding Plaintiff's second year of medical school.
Id. at 44-45. Plaintiff “prefer[red] not to
add more years onto medical school, ” but she
recognized that this option was more favorable than the
alternative-that is, Plaintiff wished to remain in medical
school rather than face dismissal. Id. Plaintiff
conceded that “spread[ing] [her] classes out over two
years . . . would address a lot of the issues that bring up
[her] anxiety.” Id. at 44.
April 2014, the Student Progress Sub-Committee reviewed
Plaintiff's record and performance-at this time,
Plaintiff had also failed Skin System and Respiratory
System-and recommended her dismissal from the Medical School.
Id. at 49. Plaintiff requested a review of the
decision, and successfully lobbied for a reversal of the
decision. Id. at 57. Therefore, Plaintiff remained a
student at the Medical School but was warned that “any
further difficulties put [her] at risk of dismissal.”
retook the Respiratory System course in Fall 2014 and failed
the exam a second time. Id. at 72. The student
handbook warned students that if they received “a Fail
grade in a repeated course, this is grounds for
dismissal.” Id. at 11. In light of
Plaintiff's second failure in Respiratory System despite
being on an expanded schedule, and taking her entire record
into consideration, the Student Progress Committee once again
recommended that Plaintiff be dismissed from the program.
Id. at 59. Plaintiff sought review of the decision,
id. at 61, but the Committee “concluded that
[Plaintiff] failed to meet the School of Medicine's
academic standards” and therefore sustained its
dismissal recommendation, id. at 63. By this time,
Plaintiff had failed eight courses. In June 2015, the Dean of
the Medical School accepted the Student Progress
Committee's recommendation and formally dismissed
Plaintiff from the program. Id. at 69. This lawsuit
judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to
any material fact and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving
party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence
of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Where the moving
party will have the burden of proof at trial, it must
affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact
could find other than for the moving party. Soremekun v.
Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978, 984 (9th Cir.
2007). On an issue where the nonmoving party will bear the
burden of proof at trial, the moving party can prevail merely
by pointing out to the district court that there is an
absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's
case. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 325. If the moving
party meets the initial burden, the opposing party must set
forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue of
fact for trial in order to defeat the motion. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986). The court
must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that
party's favor. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150-51 (2000).
the court need not, and will not, “scour the record in
search of a genuine issue of triable fact.” Keenan
v. Allan, 91 F.3d 1275, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see
also, White v. McDonnel-Douglas Corp., 904 F.2d 456, 458
(8th Cir. 1990) (the court need not “speculate on which
portion of the record the nonmoving party relies, nor is it
obliged to wade through and search the entire record for some
specific facts that might support the nonmoving party's
claim”). The opposing party must present significant
and probative evidence to support its claim or defense.
Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co.,
952 F.2d 1551, 1558 (9th Cir. 1991). Uncorroborated
allegations and “self-serving testimony” will not
create a genuine issue of material fact. Villiarimo v.
Aloha Island Air, Inc., 281 F.3d 1054, 1061 (9th Cir.
2002); T.W. Elec. Serv. V. Pac Elec. Contractors
Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).