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Court reverses decision for student

By MICHAEL ANICH

The Leader-Herald

ALBANY — The state Appellate Division on Thursday reversed a Supreme Court decision, ruling in favor of the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services against a former nursing student it let go.

The five-page decision by appellate judges reverses an order July 23, 2018 in Johnstown by state Supreme Court Justice Joseph Sise. The appellate decision favors BOCES against former Licensed Practical Nursing program student Julia Meisner. The ruling also dismisses Meisner’s complaint.

Meisner had complained against BOCES, and Thursday’s decision reversed Sise’s ruling that denied BOCES’s motion for a summary judgment dismissing Meisner’s complaint.

A lack of an Article 78 proceeding brought by the plaintiff was cited as a critical reason for the dismissal.

The appellate decision noted Meisner was enrolled in the BOCES LPN program, evaluated according to various criteria, including her performance in the clinical setting. On March 1, 2013, BOCES dismissed her from the program. Almost one year later, Meisner commenced civil action in Supreme Court alleging three causes, which included fraud and breach of contract.

This was based on Meisner’s claim that her clinical supervisor “knowingly made material misrepresentations when documenting her clinical performance and such misrepresentations” led to Meisner’s “improper dismissal.”

BOCES later moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Sise denied BOCES’s motion, concluding that “the proof submitted by defendant was insufficient to meet its initial burden, evidence submitted in reply papers would not be considered and arguments seeking dismissal based on affirmative defenses were not properly the subject of the summary judgment motion.”

The Appellate Division ruled that Supreme Court “should have considered” BOCES’s “affirmative defenses” on the motion. The motion did seek dismissal of the complaint “in its entirety,” as well as other relief.

Appellate judges also noted BOCES argued that Meisner’s challenge was “untimely” as it should have been brought in an Article 78 proceeding within four months of her dismissal from the LPN program.

“Courts have repeatedly addressed student challenges to dismissals from institutions of higher learning through the conduit of a CPLR Article 78 proceeding,” the judges ruled.

The decision also found: “Moreover, where a student’s challenge to a termination from a school has not been brought pursuant to CPLR article 78 or been filed within the applicable four-month statute of limitations, courts have dismissed the action.”

Appellate judges said Meisner’s separate causes of action are “all, at their core, challenges to defendant’s actions in dismissing her from the LPN program in a manner that allegedly was not in good faith and was without a sound factual basis, rendering her dismissal arbitrary and capricious.” The judges reiterated an Article 78 proceeding should have been brought.

The ruling added: “Because [Meisner] commenced this action more than four months after [BOCES] dismissed her from the LPN program … defendant was entitled to have the complaint dismissed …”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

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