Lawsuit against Ross University heads for trial

Student alleges harassment, deceit concerning terminal surgeries in curriculum

September 30, 2008 (published)
By Jennifer Fiala

Denver — Jamie Scott’s case against Ross University’s veterinary medical program and its parent, DeVry, Inc., likely is headed to trial following last week’s failed attempt at a settlement.

That comes from Scott’s attorney Jennifer Thomaidis, with The Animal Law Center in downtown Denver. In a lawsuit filed earlier this year in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Scott claims that her decision to apply to Ross’ veterinary medical program on St. Kitts in the West Indies largely hinged on false assurances from an admissions representative that terminal surgeries were an optional portion of the curriculum.

Yet soon after her arrival for fall semester in 2006, Scott says she was informed that her participation in terminal surgeries was paramount to a passing grade. Scott, who says she can’t afford to drop out of the program after relocating and acquiring loans to invest in the education, claims she’s been harassed and ostracized by fellow students, including the program’s dean. According to court documents, her complaints to school officials, including Dr. David DeYoung, dean of the program, went unresolved and, in fact, were compounded by faculty who e-mailed the entire student body an article she wrote highlighting her concerns for the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights newsletter. A copy of the piece also was posted outside the dean’s office, the lawsuit says.

Scott, of Black Hawk, Colo., alleges five counts against the university, ranging from breach of contract to emotional distress. In the lawsuit, she seeks unspecified damages for the “tens of thousands of dollars” she’s spent attending the Ross program as well as legal fees.

Officials with DeVry and Ross University did not return repeated interview requests by press time. In a motion to dismiss the case, now pending, the defendants’ attorneys question everything from the court’s jurisdiction concerning the case to Scott’s current status as an enrolled student. The allegations are “frivolous” and not nearly enough to warrant a lawsuit, the motion states.

As for the alleged offensive actions by school officials, “It is hardly outrageous and extreme to post an article that has already been voluntarily published by the author,” defendants’ attorneys say.

In her legal response, Thomaidis answers DeVry’s motion with the following reply: “This was an attempt to harass Plaintiff Scott and to damage her reputation within the Ross community simply because she had spoken the truth and had called the defendants out on the lies and deceit she had endured as well as the inhumane and archaic practices Ross uses to teach their students.”

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