Christopher Reichert enrolled in Ellzabethtown College
in the fall of 2007. He informed the college he had attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder, a seizure disorder, and learning disabilities in
written expression and reading fluency. Reichert encountered
difficulties in his sophomore and senior years.
He allegedly had a heated exchange with a professor when
he attempted to drop a course. The professor reported the incident to
the department chairman and a meeting was arranged to discuss other
complaints against Reichert. The chairman concluded Reichert should be
expelled because he represented a threat to others.
The provost overruled the chairman’s decision after
Reichert and his parents protested. But Reichert claimed the provost and
faculty members devised a multipart plan to force him out. Reichert
alleged he was denied further accommodations, rumors were spread about
him, and faculty members were told to “make a record of all [his]
After a meeting between Reichert and the dean of
students, the dean scheduled a disciplinary hearing, which was
rescheduled because Reichert had a seizure. Additional meetings were
scheduled to discuss Reichert’s professional competency and a plagiarism
accusation. Because Reichert suffered a mental breakdown, the college
allowed him to take a medical leave of absence but told him he had to
face those hearings before returning.
Reichert filed a suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for
violations of his civil rights as a person with a disability. He also
asserted a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985, alleging a conspiracy to
violate his civil rights.
Reichert v. Elizabethtown College, et al., No. 10-2248 (E.D. Pa. 04/10/12)
Did the court dismiss the student’s claims?
A. Yes. The court dismissed the claims for
violation of civil rights because the university was a private entity
and wasn’t acting under color of law.
B. Yes. The court dismissed the claims alleging
conspiracy because he couldn’t show that two or more people conspired to
have him dismissed.
C. No. The court upheld the claims for violation
of civil rights because the university, by virtue of being a recipient
of federal funds, acted under color of law.
D. No. The court upheld the conspiracy claim
because the allegations were sufficient to establish a possible
conspiracy among college officials with the objective of having the
Correct answer: A and D.
The claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 were dismissed because
Reichert couldn’t show the college was a “state actor.” But the judge
noted Reichert’s allegations established the required elements for the §
1985 claim. Because he alleged the individual defendants held at least
one meeting to unlawfully remove him and also asserted other allegations
of disability-based discrimination, the judge decided not to dismiss
Editor’s note: This feature isn’t intended as instructional material or to replace legal advice.