Black v. Sullivan, Civ. No. 80-0164-P.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Court (Maine)
Writing for the CourtCYR
Citation561 F. Supp. 1050
PartiesMaryellen BLACK and James W. Gildard, Plaintiffs, v. William J. SULLIVAN, Robert L. Woodbury, Walter P. Fridinger, William B. Bullock, Samuel G. Andrews and University of Maine, Defendants.
Docket NumberCiv. No. 80-0164-P.
Decision Date13 April 1983

561 F. Supp. 1050

Maryellen BLACK and James W. Gildard, Plaintiffs,
v.
William J. SULLIVAN, Robert L. Woodbury, Walter P. Fridinger, William B. Bullock, Samuel G. Andrews and University of Maine, Defendants.

Civ. No. 80-0164-P.

United States District Court, D. Maine.

April 13, 1983.


561 F. Supp. 1051
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
561 F. Supp. 1052
Sidney St. F. Thaxter, Ronald A. Epstein, Thaxter, Lipez, Stevens, Broder & Micoleau, Portland, Me., for plaintiffs

Gordon F. Grimes, Joyce W. Poulin, Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson, Portland, Me., for defendants.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

CYR, District Judge.

The present section 1983 action challenges the constitutionality of the administrative rules and regulations Rules of the University of Maine University governing

561 F. Supp. 1053
the reclassification, as "residents," of University students previously classified as "nonresidents" for tuition purposes. The plaintiffs, former students of the University of Maine School of Law, assert that the Rules, on their face and as applied, are violative of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

The plaintiffs filed their complaint on June 2, 1980, prior to entering their third year of law school as nonresident students and after having been denied administrative reclassification for the preceding academic year (1979-80). In anticipation of the denial of their requests for reclassification for the 1980-81 academic year, plaintiffs moved, on July 2, 1980, for a preliminary injunction restraining the defendants from requiring plaintiffs to pay nonresident tuitions for the ensuing academic year. In order to obviate the need for preliminary injunctive relief, the parties agreed that the plaintiffs would remit the amount of the difference between resident and nonresident tuition rates for the 1980-81 academic year to the clerk of court for escrowing, subject to the understanding that the escrowed funds, with interest, would be paid over to the prevailing parties.

The case was tried before the Court, sitting without a jury.

Summary of Contentions

The plaintiffs argue that the University Rules violate the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment: (1) by imposing a substantially greater burden of proof upon students seeking reclassification as "residents" than is imposed upon students seeking classification as "residents" at the time of their initial admission to the University, and (2) by impermissibly discriminating against unmarried students, nonmilitary students and students who own no real property in Maine. Plaintiffs further allege denials of due process and equal protection resulting from the application of the Rules, due to the de facto existence of an irrebuttable presumption of nonresidency. Finally, plaintiffs assert that the rejections of their requests for reclassification were so arbitrary and irrational as to constitute denials of their due process rights.

Defendants deny plaintiffs' due process and equal protection claims; and further assert sovereign immunity under the eleventh amendment and that the individual defendants acted in good faith.

The University Rules

The University is a state-wide, public, post-secondary education system comprised of seven campuses, including the University of Southern Maine, of which the University of Maine School of Law is a part. The University derives its funding from legislative grants, tuitions and fees, for which it must account to its Board of Trustees.

On March 28, 1973 the Board of Trustees adopted "Rules Governing Residence," upon which the present Rules (Appendix A) are based, following amendments made on March 24, 1976 and on April 27, 1977.

On their face and as applied, the Rules permit attendance at the University upon payment of the lower, resident tuition rates by any student who has been "a bona fide domiciliary of the State for at least a year immediately prior to registration for the term for which resident status is claimed."

The Rules prescribe no explicit regulatory criteria for determining bona fide domiciliary status, except that a student who "has been here for at least a year primarily as a permanent resident and not merely as a student" is considered a domiciliary.1 But the Rules do describe certain circumstances in which it will be presumed that the student is not a bona fide domiciliary, absent adequate proof to the contrary: "If the student is enrolled for a full academic program, as defined by the University, it will be presumed that the student is in Maine for educational purposes and the burden will be on the student to prove otherwise."

561 F. Supp. 1054
The Rules further identify certain specific instances in which reclassification to "resident" status is considered essentially automatic: (1) where a student is a member, or a dependent of a member, of the Armed Forces currently on active duty in Maine; (2) where an unmarried minor student's parent or legal guardian is a bona fide Maine domiciliary; and (3) where a student is married to a "resident" of Maine. But for students not within any of these three categories the only indications of the types of proof required to overcome the presumption of nonresidency are found on the two-page questionnaire to be completed by applicants for reclassification (Appendix B). The information requested on the first page of the questionnaire appears to be aimed at enabling University officials to determine whether the student comes within one of the three categories just mentioned. The second page concerns whether the student: (1) has purchased "property" in Maine; (2) rents property in Maine; (3) is registered to vote in Maine; (4) has a Maine-registered motor vehicle; (5) pays Maine State Income Tax; (6) spends school and summer vacations in Maine; and (7) intends to remain in Maine after completion of his or her educational program

From the testimony of University officials and from the letters sent to the plaintiffs informing them of the reasons for rejecting their requests for reclassification, it appears that a student's statement of intent to remain in Maine following graduation is insufficient, absent "objective confirmation of the statement of intent...." Sullivan letter of May 19, 1981 Joint Exhibit 1(R). Such objective factors as a Maine bank account, a Maine driver's license, a Maine-registered vehicle, an apartment in Maine, and the payment of Maine income taxes are generally considered insufficient to confirm a stated intention to remain in Maine after graduation, because these are considered normal incidents of a temporary Maine residency as well.

Among the more significant factors identified by University officials as indicative of a bona fide domiciliary status are marriage, full-time employment, home ownership, the presence of close family members in Maine, and personal or family connections with Maine antedating admission to the University; although none of these factors is necessarily dispositive.

Approximately 60% of those seeking reclassification in a given year are successful. Most successful applicants have had a prior affiliation with Maine, have been recently married, or have acquired real property in Maine. No evidence was offered as to the number or percentage of unmarried, apartment-dwelling students, with no preadmission connections with Maine, who have succeeded in obtaining reclassification as residents, although the defendants point to plaintiff Black as such a reclassified student.

The Rules provide that the initial administrative decision on reclassification is for the campus business manager. An unsuccessful applicant may then appeal: (1) to the campus Vice President for Finance and Administration; (2) to the campus President; and (3) finally, to the Treasurer of the University (Vice-Chancellor for Finance). Roughly six to eight reclassification requests reach the President of the University of Southern Maine and approximately eight to ten (of approximately 200) reach the University Treasurer each year from all seven campuses.

Plaintiffs' Reclassification Requests

Plaintiffs Black and Gildard applied on December 15, 1977 and February 2, 1978, respectively, for admission to the University of Maine School of Law for the 1978-79 academic year. In their applications they claimed that they were residents of New Jersey and Maryland, respectively, as the term "resident" was defined in the instructions. Both plaintiffs came to Portland, Maine prior to the commencement of the 1978 fall semester and resided in local apartments during their first year in law school.

A. Reclassification Requests for Academic Year 1979-80

Following her first year of law school, plaintiff Black, on July 31, 1979, filed a

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reclassification request with the business manager of the University of Southern Maine, the defendant William Bullock, in accordance with the Rules. In support of her request she stated that she considered herself a bona fide resident of Maine

By letter dated August 22, 1979 Bullock denied the request for reclassification, explaining that Black had not satisfied the requirement that she "be in the state for at least a year primarily as a permanent resident and not merely as a student," since she had been in Maine "primarily for education purposes." Joint Exhibit 1(j).

Pursuant to the Rules, Black "appealed" Bullock's decision to the campus Vice President for Finance and Administration, the defendant Walter Fridinger, stating in a letter dated September 6, 1979 that she intended to remain in Maine following graduation. She also complained that the reclassification questionnaire, focusing primarily on the applicant's economic ties with Maine, was inapposite in her case because she lacked the financial resources to acquire such ties. She explained her reasons for deciding to become a permanent Maine resident, emphasizing her acceptance of Maine summer...

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8 practice notes
  • Gomes v. University of Maine System, No. CIV. 03-123-B-W.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Court (Maine)
    • February 23, 2004
    ...protection under our Federal Constitution. Nor do we find any basis for saying it is implicitly so protected"); Black v. Sullivan, 561 F.Supp. 1050, 1058 (D.Me.1983) ("A state-subsidized, post-secondary education is not a fundamental constitutional To the extent property interests have been......
  • Newman v. Com. of Mass., No. 88-1923
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • February 6, 1989
    ...476-77 (10th Cir.1978); Jeffries v. Turkey Run Consolidated School Dist., Page 25 492 F.2d 1, 3-4 (7th Cir.1974); Black v. Sullivan, 561 F.Supp. 1050, 1061 (D.Me.1983); Beatham v. Manson, 369 F.Supp. 783, 789-92 We are persuaded that at the time defendants acted it was clearly established i......
  • Pandolfi De Rinaldis v. Llavona, No. Civ. 97-2699(DRD).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • August 16, 1999
    ...v. Cataldo, 451 F.2d 1109 (1st Cir.1971); Drown v. Portsmouth Sch. Dist., 451 F.2d 1106 (1st Cir. 1971); see also Black v. Sullivan, 561 F.Supp. 1050, 1061 (D.Me.1983); but see Pittsley v. Warish, 927 F.2d (1st 11. In Newman v. Com. of Mass., 884 F.2d at 25 the Circuit Court held that: "eve......
  • Tobin v. University of Maine System, No. CIV. 98-237-B.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maine
    • July 1, 1999
    ...36 L.Ed.2d 16 (1973) (noting that education is neither explicitly nor implicitly protected by the Constitution); Black v. Sullivan, 561 F.Supp. 1050, 1058 (D.Me. 1983) (observing that "[a] state-subsidized, post-secondary education is not a fundamental constitutional right" in course of eva......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Gomes v. University of Maine System, No. CIV. 03-123-B-W.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Court (Maine)
    • February 23, 2004
    ...protection under our Federal Constitution. Nor do we find any basis for saying it is implicitly so protected"); Black v. Sullivan, 561 F.Supp. 1050, 1058 (D.Me.1983) ("A state-subsidized, post-secondary education is not a fundamental constitutional To the extent property interests have been......
  • Newman v. Com. of Mass., No. 88-1923
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • February 6, 1989
    ...476-77 (10th Cir.1978); Jeffries v. Turkey Run Consolidated School Dist., Page 25 492 F.2d 1, 3-4 (7th Cir.1974); Black v. Sullivan, 561 F.Supp. 1050, 1061 (D.Me.1983); Beatham v. Manson, 369 F.Supp. 783, 789-92 We are persuaded that at the time defendants acted it was clearly established i......
  • Pandolfi De Rinaldis v. Llavona, No. Civ. 97-2699(DRD).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • August 16, 1999
    ...v. Cataldo, 451 F.2d 1109 (1st Cir.1971); Drown v. Portsmouth Sch. Dist., 451 F.2d 1106 (1st Cir. 1971); see also Black v. Sullivan, 561 F.Supp. 1050, 1061 (D.Me.1983); but see Pittsley v. Warish, 927 F.2d (1st 11. In Newman v. Com. of Mass., 884 F.2d at 25 the Circuit Court held that: "eve......
  • Tobin v. University of Maine System, No. CIV. 98-237-B.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maine
    • July 1, 1999
    ...36 L.Ed.2d 16 (1973) (noting that education is neither explicitly nor implicitly protected by the Constitution); Black v. Sullivan, 561 F.Supp. 1050, 1058 (D.Me. 1983) (observing that "[a] state-subsidized, post-secondary education is not a fundamental constitutional right" in course of eva......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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