United States District Court, D. Hawaii
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS WITH LEAVE TO
RICHARD L. PUGLISI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
October 20, 2017, a hearing was held on Defendant's
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, filed on August 16,
2017 (“Motion”). ECF No. 24. Brian K. Mackintosh,
Esq. appeared on behalf of Plaintiff; Derek T. Mayeshiro,
Esq. appeared on behalf of Defendant. After carefully
reviewing the parties' submissions, the arguments made by
counsel at the hearing, and the relevant legal authority, the
Court GRANTS the Motion and GRANTS Plaintiff leave to file a
second amended complaint.
First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he
matriculated as a medical student at the John A. Burns School
of Medicine, University of Hawaii at Manoa, in July 2005. ECF
No. 7 ¶ 9. Shortly after July 2005, Plaintiff began to
experience anxiety, depression, and inabilities to sleep or
focus. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiff did not seek medical
treatment for these symptoms until July 2007. Id.
¶ 11. Beginning in 2007, Plaintiff was under psychiatric
care. Id. ¶ 12.
took a medical licencing exam in July 2009 and did not pass.
Id. ¶¶ 14, 15. In October 2009, Dr. Mary
Ann Antonelli, Director of the Office of Student Affairs at
the medical school, asked Plaintiff to appear before the
Student Standing and Promotion Committee to evaluate his
academic progress. Id. ¶ 23. In response,
Plaintiff emailed Dr. Antonelli about his depression and
disability. Id. ¶ 24. Dr. Antonelli did not
refer Plaintiff to the office for students with disabilities,
but accommodated Plaintiff by twice postponing
Plaintiff's appearance before the committee. Id.
December 2009, Plaintiff was clinically diagnosed with major
depression pursuant to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV
TR) criteria for Major Depressive Episode. Id.
¶ 16. Plaintiff did not respond immediately to
treatment. Id. ¶ 17.
appeared before the Student Standing and Promotion Committee
on February 10, 2010. Id. ¶ 29. The committee
allowed Plaintiff to re-take the medical licencing exam by
April 28, 2010, to accommodate his disability. Id.
¶ 30. In April 2010, Plaintiff's treating
psychiatrist advised Plaintiff to take a medical leave of
absence from school and not to take the medical licencing
exam. Id. ¶ 31. Plaintiff's treating
psychiatrist wrote a letter to the medical school on June 7,
2010, stating that she recommended a 4-6 month leave of
absence to accommodate Plaintiff's depression.
Id. ¶ 32. Dr. Antonelli approved
Plaintiff's medical leave of absence on June 23, 2010.
Id. ¶ 33.
August 2010, Plaintiff was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Id. ¶ 18. Plaintiff's depression and
hypothyroidism interfered with major life activities such as
concentrating, studying, and learning. Id. ¶
December 20, 2010, the new Director of the Office of Student
Affairs at the medical school, Dr. Richard Smerz, ordered
Plaintiff to attend a meeting before the Student Standing and
Promotion Committee to evaluate his academic progress on
January 12, 2011. Id. ¶ 37. Plaintiff met with
Dr. Smerz on January 5, 2011, and informed him of his medical
disabilities, including depression and recently diagnosed
hypothyroidism. Id. ¶ 38. Plaintiff's major
depression and hypothyroidism had begun to respond to
treatment by January 2011. Id. ¶¶ 20, 39.
Plaintiff asked Dr. Smerz to continue Plaintiff's medical
leave to allow time for his treatment to become fully
effective, which Dr. Smerz refused. Id. ¶¶
39, 40. Dr. Smerz encouraged Plaintiff to withdraw from
medical school or face almost certain expulsion. Id.
¶ 40. Dr. Smerz also told Plaintiff that he needed to
leave to cope with his problems. Id. ¶ 41. Dr.
Smerz did not recommend or contact the office for students
with disabilities. Id. ¶ 43. Plaintiff's
treating psychiatrist also contacted Dr. Smerz to ask that
Plaintiff be given continuing accommodation to allow time for
his treatment to become fully effective, which Dr. Smerz
refused. Id. ¶¶ 44-45.
Student Standing and Promotion Committee met on January 12,
2011, to review Plaintiff's case and voted unanimously to
dismiss Plaintiff from the medical school for academic
malperformance. Id. ¶¶ 46-50.
appealed the committee's decision on January 24, 2011.
Id. ¶ 61. Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist
submitted a letter regarding Plaintiff's depression and
hypothroidism stating that these conditions “affected
his energy, motivation, concentration and cognitive
clarity.” Id. ¶ 63. Plaintiff's
appeal was dismissed on February 18, 2011, concluding that
there were no grounds for a formal hearing. Id.
¶ 34. Plaintiff appealed that decision to Dr. Jerris
Hedges, Office of the Dean of Medicine, asking permission to
re-take the licencing exam as an accommodation for his
depression and hypothyroidism. Id. ¶ 69-75.
Plaintiff met with Dr. Hedges regarding his appeal on April
6, 2011. Id. ¶ 76. Plaintiff received a letter
from Dr. Hedges on April 7, 2011, upholding the decision to
dismiss Plaintiff from the medical school. Id.
December 2011, Plaintiff filed discrimination complaints
against Dr. Hedges and Dr. Smerz with the Office of the Vice
Chancellor for Students. Id. ¶ 104. A
fact-finding report regarding Plaintiff's complaints was
submitted to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Students
on May 21, 2012. Id. ¶ 105. On June 20, 2012,
Reed Dasenbrock, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, issued
his decision finding no discrimination. Id.
¶¶ 112-130. Plaintiff appealed that decision to
Vassilis Syrmos, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and
Graduate Education, acting as the Chancellor's designee
on July 21, 2012. Id. ¶¶ 131, 134.
Plaintiff's appeal was denied on September 11, 2012.
Id. ¶¶ 136-143.
filed this action on September 11, 2016. See ECF No.
1. Plaintiff asserts claims under Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and under Title II of
the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990