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Hall v. Capella University

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 16, 2018

Aric W. Hall, Plaintiff,
v.
Capella University, Defendant.

          Aric W. Hall, plaintiff pro se.

          Peter C. Hennigan, Esq. and Maslon LLP, counsel for defendant.

          ORDER

          David S. Doty, Judge

         This matter is before the court upon the motion to dismiss by defendant Capella University. Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following reasons, the motion is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         This dispute arises out of Capella's disenrollment of plaintiff Aric W. Hall from its Ph.D. program in February 2012. Hall enrolled in Capella's “long-track” Ph.D. program in 2003. Hall v. Capella Univ., No. 16-223, ECF No. 1 ¶ 5.[1] The long-track program allowed him to complete his doctorate over a period of seven years. Id. Hall alleges that, in 2011, despite submitting draft dissertation templates to an unnamed dissertation advisor multiple times, he received no feedback or response.[2] Compl. ¶ 8. The dissertation advisor also allegedly failed to sign off on Hall's milestones or otherwise communicate with him.[3] Id. ¶¶ 6-7. Capella disenrolled Hall in February 2012, even though unnamed university advisors allegedly told him, that same month, that they would “press for an extension” and “seek a new dissertation advisor.” Id. ¶ 12. The complaint does not state whether Capella provided reasons for his disenrollment.

         On February 1, 2016, Hall filed suit against Capella University and Capella Education Company alleging fraud and breach of contract based on the facts stated above as well as several additional allegations. See Hall v. Capella Univ., No. 16-223, ECF No. 1. On June 21, 2016, the court found that most of the alleged conduct was barred either by the statute of limitations or the educational malpractice doctrine, and it dismissed those claims with prejudice. Id. ECF No. 25, at *3-6. The court, however, dismissed his fraud and breach of contract claims as they pertained to his 2012 disenrollment without prejudice so that he could re- file his complaint and plead the factual bases of his claims with more specificity. Id.

         On January 4, 2018, Hall again filed suit against Capella University alleging fraud and false advertizing based on his disenrollment from the Ph.D. program. Capella now moves to dismiss.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Standard of Review

         To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, “‘a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Braden v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 588 F.3d 585, 594 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff [has pleaded] factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)). Although a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. “[L]abels and conclusions or a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” are not sufficient to state a claim. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). The court notes that Hall is pro se and, therefore, it will liberally construe his complaint, but it will not assume facts not alleged. Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914 (8th Cir. 2004).

         II. Motion to Dismiss

         Capella argues that both of Hall's claims must be dismissed because he has failed to plead them with sufficient particularity. The court agrees.

         A. ...


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