Jolivet v. Elkins, Civ. No. H-74-595.

Decision Date17 December 1974
Docket NumberCiv. No. H-74-595.
PartiesArnold M. JOLIVET, Plaintiff, v. Wilson H. ELKINS, President of the University of Maryland, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Maryland

John H. Rhines and James E. Stancil, Baltimore, Md., for plaintiff.

Francis B. Burch, Atty. Gen. of Maryland, Estelle A. Fishbein and David H. Feldman, Asst. Attys. Gen., Baltimore, Md., for defendants.


Formerly a student at the University of Maryland School of Law (hereinafter "the Law School"), plaintiff, a black resident of Baltimore City, has brought this civil action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief as well as money damages because of alleged violations of his constitutional rights. Jurisdiction is asserted under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 and 1988, and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1334. Named as defendants are the President of the University of Maryland; the Chairman and the members of the Board of Regents of the University; the Chancellor of the University at Baltimore; the Dean of the Law School; the members of the Law School Faculty Administrative Committee; and five individual law professors.

Plaintiff was a student at the Law School for three full years but did not graduate. The essence of his claim in this suit is that defendants have excluded him from the Law School and have refused to readmit him because of his race. In his complaint, plaintiff alleges that he needs only five academic credits in order to graduate; that defendants have previously given him low grades and failing grades in his courses because of his race, thus resulting in his exclusion from the Law School; that defendants have denied him financial aid because of his race; and that defendants have denied him a fair hearing in connection with his efforts to be readmitted. Plaintiff claims that by these acts defendants have deprived him of rights guaranteed by the Thirteenth Amendment and by the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

As relief, plaintiff seeks an injunction requiring his immediate readmission to the Law School1 and restraining defendants from engaging in discriminatory grading and financial aid practices and from intimidating plaintiff in the classroom. Plaintiff further asks this Court to order the desegregation of the faculty and staff at the Law School and the appointment of more minority faculty and staff and, in addition, seeks $1,000,000 damages together with attorneys' fees.

Defendants have now filed a motion for summary judgment, together with supporting affidavits and exhibits.2 Defendants assert that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because plaintiff's claims for relief are barred (1) by limitations and (2) by laches. An opposition to the pending motion has been filed by plaintiff, together with a supporting affidavit and exhibits. Although conceding that a three-year statute of limitations is applicable in this case, plaintiff asserts that his cause of action did not accrue more than three years before he filed suit and that in any event, the running of any period of limitations or laches has been tolled by various efforts he undertook for an administrative review of his right to be readmitted to the Law School.

Besides the basic pleadings themselves, the record presently before the Court includes (1) various motions with supporting affidavits previously filed by the parties;3 (2) the depositions of plaintiff and of defendant William P. Cunningham, Dean of the Law School; (3) plaintiff's interrogatories to various defendants; and (4) answers to plaintiff's interrogatories. Following a hearing in open court on the pending motion for summary judgment, further briefs have been filed by the parties.

Summary Judgment

Summary judgment should be granted only where there is no genuine issue as to any material fact. Rule 56 (c), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. If conflicting inferences may be drawn from the evidence, or if reasonable men might reach different conclusions therefrom, summary judgment is not appropriate. Phoenix Savings and Loan, Inc. v. Aetna Casualty and Surety Company, 381 F.2d 245, 249 (4th Cir. 1967); Batchelor v. Legg & Co., 52 F.R.D. 545 (D.Md.1971).

The issues raised by the pending motion are (1) whether plaintiff's cause of action accrued more than three years before June 11, 1974 when this suit was filed and (2) whether the running of limitations was tolled by plaintiff's efforts to secure an administrative review of his right to continue as a student at the Law School. The basic facts material to these issues are not disputed. However, for a proper understanding of the application of these facts to the controlling legal principles, it is necessary that the history of and the other background facts pertaining to the dispute between plaintiff and the Law School be set forth in some detail.


Arnold M. Jolivet, the plaintiff, who is now thirty-two years of age, was graduated from Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland, in June 1966. In the Fall of 1965, during his senior year at college, he had applied to the University of Maryland for admission to the Law School. His application was rejected in the Spring of 1966.

In the Fall of 1966, Jolivet again applied for admission to the Law School, and his application was again rejected the following Spring of 1967.4

According to the testimony of Dean Cunningham at his deposition, plaintiff had been initially denied admission in 1967 because he had not met the Law School's general competitive standards in both Law School Admission Test scores (hereinafter LSAT) and in college scholastic averages. Plaintiff had taken the LSAT examination three times, achieving a score of less than 300 on one examination and later scores slightly above 300 on two other examinations.5 Plaintiff's college scholastic average at Morgan State was 2.8. Students who had been admitted to the Law School for the academic terms beginning in 1966 and 1967 had been required to have LSAT scores of at least 550 and college scholastic averages of 3.0 or more.

Following his initial rejection in the Spring of 1967, plaintiff visited the Law School and discussed the matter with Associate Dean William Hall. Dean Hall told plaintiff that he had been denied admission because the Faculty Admissions Committee had concluded that he would not do well in law school. Dean Hall stated that the Committee based its decision on its evaluation of plaintiff's LSAT scores and his college scholastic record. Plaintiff thereupon advised Dean Hall of his determination to be admitted even if he had to bring legal action to accomplish such end. Plaintiff stated that he was contemplating a law suit to force his admission because he believed that he was qualified to be a student at the Law School and that the reason why only a few black students were at the Law School was a result of the unlawful discrimination which had been practiced by officials of the School over the years.

Following such conference, plaintiff was invited to file another application for admission to the Law School. After due consideration, such application was accepted, and plaintiff was enrolled for the Fall Semester of 1967 as a full-time day student. Plaintiff was admitted at that time as one of four black students in an experimental admissions program for blacks and other disadvantaged students. According to Dean Cunningham, the purpose of that special program was to train for the legal profession more representatives of disadvantaged groups. The Dean testified that the program was undertaken even though the Law School recognized that most of the persons who would be candidates for admission did not have adequate educational backgrounds and, since they did not meet general competitive standards for admission, had only a fair chance of success in law school.6

The academic requirements for all students who entered the Law School for the 1967 Fall Semester included the following (Catalog, pages 12 and 13):

* * * * * *
"Grading System and Exclusion Rules
"Students enrolled AFTER September 1, 1964: A (excellent), 85-100; B (good), 78-84; C (satisfactory), 67-77; D (passing), 60-66; F (failing), 50-59; and I (incomplete). * * *
"Averages are computed by multiplying the numerical grade for each course by its weight in semester hours, adding the products for each course, and dividing the sum by the number of semester hours taken. The repeating of a course does not erase the previous grade; the new grade and old grade are both counted in determining cumulative averages. "First year students with weighted cumulative averages at the end of the scholastic year below 67.0 will be permanently excluded from the school, unless they have received no grades lower than 67 for work done in the second semester and have carried a normal course load during the second semester. All students other than first year students will be permanently excluded from the school unless, as of the end of each scholastic year, they maintain (1) weighted cumulative averages, including all work done since entering law school, of 67.0 or better, and (2) weighted averages for the most recent scholastic year of 67.0 or better. * * *
"The Faculty Council reserves the right to require the withdrawal of any student whose continued presence would not, in the judgment of the Council, either because of low scholastic standing or other reasons, be of benefit to himself or would be detrimental to the best interests of the School. The Faculty Council also reserves the right to make such changes in the above regulations as may from time to time seem desirable.
"Requirements for Graduation
"Students enrolled AFTER September 1, 1964: To be eligible for the Bachelor of Laws degree a student must have fulfilled course requirements (

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