The University will be forced to pay approximately $320,990 in legal fees to the law firm that represented Alissa Zwick, a former University Dentistry student who claimed she was unfairly expelled from the University.
In addition to the $320,990, Zwick was awarded $1.72 million at a federal court hearing in December.
Zwick, who was expelled in 2005 after being told she wasn’t fit to practice dentistry by the associate dean of the Dental School and other instructors, filed the lawsuit in May 2006.
At the hearing in December, a jury ruled that the University violated Zwick’s rights since she was discharged after her third year of dental school while maintaining a “B” average.
In response to the ruling, the University is appealing the jury’s verdict, according to University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham.
“We believe that there was not sufficient evidence for them to find that Ms. Zwick’s due process rights were violated by the defendants or by the School of Dentistry,” Cunningham wrote in an e-mail statement yesterday. “The evidence shows that the School of Dentistry complied with all legal requirements and with its own procedures.”
Cunningham added that before anyone can be dismissed for academic reasons, the student is “entitled to due process.”
“To comply with the legal requirements of due process, a student must be made aware of the faculty’s dissatisfaction with his/her progress and the decision to dismiss him/her was careful and deliberate,” she said. “The Dental School has well-established procedures that protect a student’s due process rights before she is dismissed from an academic program.”
Cunningham said the University has legal insurance that will pay for them.
The $320,990 will be divided into approximately $307,088 for legal fees to Zwick’s attorneys — which is near the $309,388 that the attorneys originally requested — and the remaining $13,902 will be used for other costs.
After the University dismissed Zwick, she was unable to enter other dental programs even though before attending the University of Michigan’s School of Dentistry she was accepted into eight other dental schools. She is currently working toward a master’s degree in speech pathology at Eastern Michigan University.