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Chadwick v. Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 19, 2018

Christina N Chadwick, Plaintiff,
v.
Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico Incorporated, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Honorable Rosemary Marquez United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Christina Chadwick's Application for Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order. (Doc. 8.) On August 10, 2018, the Court heard oral argument on the Application and took the matter under advisement so that Defendant Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico Incorporated (“Interamericana”) could file a response. (Docs. 10, 11.) Interamericana filed its Response on August 20, 2018. (Doc. 12.) Plaintiff filed a Reply. (Doc. 13.) Given the briefing schedule and nature of Plaintiff's requests, the Court construes the Application as a motion for preliminary injunction. See Brookfield Commc'ns, Inc. v. W. Coast Entm't Corp, 174 F.3d 1036, 1043 (9th Cir. 1999). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's request for preliminary injunctive relief will be denied.

         I. Background

         A. Prior Litigation

         In August 2015, Plaintiff enrolled in the School of Optometry at Interamericana. (Doc. 8-1, ¶ 7.) On July 7, 2017, Interamericana dismissed Plaintiff from the program. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff appealed her dismissal on July 18, 2017, and, after the appeals committee failed to timely respond, filed a lawsuit in this Court on August 2, 2017. (Id. ¶ 11.) In her appeal, Plaintiff advised Interamericana that she has an emotional/mental disability for which she receives psychiatric care. (Id. ¶ 12.) Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit after Interamericana partially granted her appeal and allowed her to take a reduced course load. (Id. ¶¶ 11, 14-15.)

         Following the Fall 2017 semester, Plaintiff sued Interamericana again, alleging that Interamericana acted contrary to its academic policy and discriminated against her based on her mental disability. (Id. ¶ 16.) On February 10, 2018, Plaintiff and Interamericana resolved the action by entering into a Confidential Settlement Agreement and General Release. (Id. ¶ 17.)

         B. Requests for Accommodations

         In February 2018, Plaintiff submitted a request for reasonable accommodations, signed by her treating physician, Dr. Richard Barnes, requesting that, prior to class, she be provided with “complete power point slide presentations prepared by professors.” (Doc. 8-1, ¶ 35.) Despite her request, Interamericana refuses to provide her with full PowerPoint presentations, instead providing “fill-in-the-blank notes, ” or “skeleton” presentations. (Id. ¶ 36; Doc. 12-1, ¶ 16.) As was made clear during the hearing, Plaintiff is requesting completed “skeleton” presentations, in addition to the professor's notes. (See Doc. 8-2.)

         In Spring 2018, Plaintiff requested that tutors be made available to assist her with her studies. (Doc. 8-1, ¶ 37.) According to Plaintiff, the Dean of Student Affairs promised to find tutors, but never followed through on that promise. (Id.) Plaintiff submits a letter executed by Dr. Barnes on August 1, 2018 (two days before this lawsuit was filed), apparently directed to Interamericana, which states that Plaintiff would benefit from the foregoing accommodations. (Doc. 8-2.)

         II. Standard of Review

         “A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008) (citation omitted). There are four requirements for a preliminary injunction: (1) the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) the plaintiff is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in the plaintiff's favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest. Id. at 20. The relief sought by Plaintiff requires affirmative conduct by Interamericana. “Such ‘mandatory preliminary relief' is subject to heightened scrutiny and should not be issued unless the facts and law clearly favor the moving party.” Dahl v. HEM Pharm. Corp., 7 F.3d 1399, 1403 (9th Cir. 1993) (citing Anderson v. United States, 612 F.2d 1112, 1114 (9th Cir. 1980)).

         The Ninth Circuit follows a “sliding scale” approach to preliminary injunctions. All. for the Wild Rockies v. Cottrell, 632 F.3d 1127, 1131 (9th Cir. 2011). Under this approach, a weaker showing as to the likelihood of success on the merits may be offset by a stronger showing with respect to the balance of the equities. Id. at 1131-32. If the moving party is unable to establish a likelihood of success on the merits, a preliminary injunction may still be granted if (1) there are serious questions going to the merits, i.e., substantial, difficult, and doubtful questions on which the plaintiff has a fair chance of success; (2) the balance of hardships tips “sharply” in the plaintiff's favor; and (3) the other Winter requirements, i.e., irreparable harm and in the public interest, are met. Id. at 1135.

         III. ...


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