OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - For the third time, the Nebraska Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by a former University of Nebraska Medical Center student who said the school discriminated against him when it kicked him out of the program in 2006 without making accommodations for his chronic depression.
The student in 2008 filed the lawsuit anonymously as “John Doe” and served as his own attorney. His lawsuit accused UNMC, various staff members and the University of Nebraska Board of Regents of breach of contract, fraudulent concealment and violation the federal Americans with Disabilities Act when he was kicked out of medical school in late 2006 for poor performance.
Court records show that Doe developed a habit in his freshman and sophomore years of medical school of postponing and rescheduling his exams. In his sophomore year, he was informed he would not be allowed to delay taking any other exams. Shortly afterward, he took a leave of absence covering the second semester of his sophomore year.
Once in his junior year, the school said Doe continued a pattern of not showing or showing late for rounds and acting unprofessionally. That year, he failed two courses, scored only marginally in another and was terminated from the program in December 2006.
Doe said he told various officials about his depression and that they should have made accommodations for him. But school officials said he never informed them of a diagnosis - only that he was stressed over calling off his wedding and the death of his grandmother. The school also showed that Doe never notified - as required - UNMC’s office of student services of his disability or asked the office to provide him any accommodations.
The state's high court previously rejected Doe’s breach of contract and fraudulent concealment claims. On Friday, it found that a Douglas County District Court was right to dismiss Doe’s remaining discrimination claim.
“All courts agree that if the defendants did not know of the disability, then they cannot be liable under the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act,” Nebraska Supreme Court Justice Michael McCormack wrote for the court. “Doe’s case largely fails because Doe’s testimony that he told some of the faculty members he was ‘depressed’ or ‘stressed’ was insufficient to rebut their testimony that they had no knowledge Doe suffered from a disability.”
An attorney for the university did not immediately return a message Friday seeking comment.