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Grimes v. Southern New Hampshire University

United States District Court, D. New Hampshire

August 31, 2017

Jerome L. Grimes
v.
Southern New Hampshire University

          Jerome L. Grimes, pro se.

          SUPERSEDING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Andrea K. Johnstone United States Magistrate Judge.

         This Superseding Report and Recommendation replaces the August 11, 2017 Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 6) ("August 11 R&R"), which this court has withdrawn in an Order issued on this date.

         Plaintiff Jerome L. Grimes has filed a Complaint (Doc. No. 1) and an Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 8), which are before this court for preliminary review, pursuant to LR 4.3(d) and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Grimes also filed a "Reply Objection to Report and Recommendation" (Doc. No. 7) after the court issued the August 11 R&R (Doc. No. 6) vacated this date. The court has considered the factual assertions in Document No. 7, along with those in the complaint (Doc. No. 1) and amended complaint (Doc. No. 8) in conducting this preliminary review.[1] Also before the court are Grimes's requests for a preliminary injunction, set forth in the complaint (Doc. No. 1) and amended complaint (Doc. No. 8) .

         Background

         Grimes's pleadings (Doc. Nos. 1, 7, 8) allege that Grimes has enrolled in a 30-month online sports management graduate program at Southern New Hampshire University ("SNHU"). Grimes applied for and obtained financial aid in the form of a loan, guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Education, to pay tuition for courses in that program.

         Grimes asserts he enrolled in an online sports management field methods course at SNHU, which was scheduled to run from April 2017 through June 2017. SNHU accepted a disbursement of Grimes's federally-insured student loan to pay for that course. Grimes could not complete the course and received a failing grade in June 2017. Sometime after June 26, 2017, Grimes received notice that the "F" he received had been withdrawn by the professor. See Doc. No. 7, at 2.

         Grimes asserts that on June 14, 2017, SNHU financial aid office staff members, agents, student advisors, and coconspirators, in Grimes's view, inspired by a "hidden agenda, " effectively "blacklisted" or "discriminat[ed]" against Grimes, by preventing him from accessing federally insured student loan funds to pay for future courses at SNHU. Grimes alleges that SNHU's alleged discriminatory conduct has violated Titles III, IV, and IX and other federal laws. Grimes seeks preliminary injunctions granting him access to student loan funds at SNHU, and an order firing unnamed "state actors" from remaining in the employ of schools or universities that receive federal funds.

         Discussion

         I. Preliminary Review

         The magistrate judge conducts a preliminary review of pleadings like Grimes's, which are filed in forma pauperis. See LR 4.3(d). The magistrate judge may recommend to the district judge that one or more claims be dismissed if, among other things, the court lacks jurisdiction, a defendant is immune from the relief sought, or the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e) (2); LR 4.3(d). In conducting its preliminary review, the court construes pro se complaints liberally. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (per curiam). The complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation omitted).

         Stripped of legal conclusions, Grimes's bald assertions of discrimination under Titles III, IV, and IX, and other laws are not actionable as they fail to assert sufficient facts to state any claim upon which relief might be granted. Grimes's claims of discrimination under Titles III, IV, and IX are conclusory and do not allege facts to show that Grimes was treated differently than any similarly-situated individuals on the basis of sex, race, disability, or any other classification.

         Grimes has also failed to state claims based on 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments. SNHU is a private university. Given the absence of allegations of state action here, Grimes has not stated actionable claims of violations of his federal constitutional rights, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 does not provide Grimes with a remedy. Cf. Murphy v. Villanova Univ., 547 F.Supp. 512, 517-18 (E.D. Pa. 1982) (private university not liable under section 1983 as plaintiff failed to show university engaged in "state action"), aff'd, 707 F.2d 1402 (3d Cir. 1983).

         II. Prelimin ...


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