Ithaca, N.Y. — Only part of a lawsuit over Cornell’s decision to expel a student and demand over $100,000 in repaid financial aid can proceed, Judge Robert C. Mulvey said in an order made available in court records on Friday.

Summary of the case:

Hyuna Choi is suing the university after she was forced to leave Cornell and told to repay three semesters’ worth of financial aid for failing to disclose on her application that she had attended a community college several years prior, according to court documents.

Choi’s 2012 application to Cornell did not mention that she had attended Glendale Community College in 2003. Choi’s record was first scrutinized in a cheating allegation, according to records.

Choi also said she had been unfairly barred from appealing within the university’s judicial system.

Read the Ithaca Voice’s full account of the lawsuit and Cornell’s response.

Judge’s split order

Cornell had filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Judge Mulvey’s ruling this week granted that request, but only in part.

More specifically, Mulvey threw out what’s called the “Article 78” part of Choi’s claim, which pertains to state law, and granted that the claims under federal law could proceed.

“Article 78” claim tossed:

Choi had sued Cornell under Article 78 of the state’s law, which pertains to the authority of New York state agencies.

The judge tossed that claim for two reasons: 1) That Choi’s side hadn’t filed the claim within the statute of limitations, and 2) That Choi failed “to state a cause of action” under Article 78.

“The (lawsuit) does not set forth any provisions of the Campus Code which establishes that any such procedures are applicable to the cancellation of admission or the rescission of financial aid,” Judge Mulvey writes.

“Consequently, the Court finds that the petition does not set forth a basis for this Court to find that the rescission of financial aid was in violation of any applicable policy or procedure.”

42 USC Section 1983 kept:

Cornell had also moved to have the lawsuit dismissed as irrelevant to a part of the federal law, 42 USC Section 1983. That part of the federal law pertains to Constitutional rights and due process.

But, Mulvey said, Cornell simply hadn’t properly explained why that case should be dismissed on these grounds.

“The respondents have not addressed the sufficiency of the allegations with respect to relief under 42 USC Section 1983, and instead argue that they are not subject to that statute,” Mulvey said.

“However, that question cannot be determined on this record, and thus, whether the acts or omissions of (Cornell) are sufficient to constitute a violation of due process rights will not be addressed at this time.”

We’ll continue to provide updates as the case unfolds.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.