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Curto v. Edmundson

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
Dec 17, 2004
392 F.3d 502 (2d Cir. 2004)

Summary

holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the plaintiff's request for sanctions against the defendant where the district court dismissed plaintiff's claims

Summary of this case from Cardona v. Cmty. Access, Inc.

Opinion

No. 04-0395.

Argued: December 13, 2004.

Decided: December 17, 2004.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, Frederick J. Scullin, Jr., Chief Judge.

Patricia J. Curto, pro se, Orchard Park, New York.

Valerie L. Cross, Cornell University, Office of the University Counsel, Ithaca, New York, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: FEINBERG, STRAUB, and RAGGI, Circuit Judges.


Plaintiff-Appellant Patricia J. Curto appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (Frederick J. Scullin, Jr., Chief Judge) dismissing her amended complaint against the Cornell defendants, and denying Curto's motion for Rule 11 sanctions. Curto alleges that her expulsion from the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University was based on her age and gender in violation of the Age Discrimination Act ("ADA") and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX").

The District Court previously dismissed Curto's claims against the State of New York, the State University of New York, Mills, and the New York State Education Department. Curto previously appealed the dismissal of her ADA and Title IX claims against these defendants, and we affirmed the district court by summary order. Doe v. Anonymous Unnamed Sch. Employees Officials of Cornell Univ. Coll. of Veterinary Med., 87 Fed.Appx. 788 (2d Cir. 2004). The remaining defendants-appellees are collectively known as the Cornell defendants.

We review de novo a district court's dismissal of a complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or 12(b)(1). Jaghory v. New York State Dep't of Educ., 131 F.3d 326, 329 (2d Cir. 1997). Such dismissal is appropriate only if "it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).

We affirm the District Court's dismissal of Curto's claims for the reasons stated by the District Court. First, the District Court properly dismissed Curto's ADA claim, because there is no evidence in the record that Curto exhausted her administrative remedies prior to filing her ADA claim in federal court. See 28 C.F.R. § 42.736(a). We also affirm the District Court's dismissal of Curto's Title IX claim predicated on the allegedly discriminatory assessments of the 1998 "Block I" exam, and her consequent expulsion from the veterinary program. The District Court correctly concluded that because Curto failed to allege that male students who, like she, had twice failed a required exam had not been expelled similarly from the veterinary program, she had failed to state a cause of action for discrimination under Title IX.

We reject Curto's argument that her pendent state law claims were improperly dismissed by the District Court. Curto included these claims in her amended complaint, in violation of the District Court's order, and they were thereafter dismissed by order of the District Court, pursuant to its authority under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(b).

To the extent that Curto's complaint can be read to allege an independent Title IX claim based on discriminatory grading of the 1997 exam, we agree with the District Court that such a claim is time-barred. Title IX does not contain a statute of limitations. Accordingly, for claims such as these to which the four-year federal catch-all statute of limitations in 28 U.S.C. § 1658(a) is inapplicable, see Jones v. R.R. Donnelley Sons Co., 541 U.S. 369, 124 S.Ct. 1836, 1845, ___ L.Ed.2d ____ (2004), we must apply "the most appropriate or analogous state statute of limitations," Goodman v. Lukens Steel Co., 482 U.S. 656, 660, 107 S.Ct. 2617, 96 L.Ed.2d 572 (1987). While we have not yet had occasion to determine the appropriate statute of limitations for Title IX claims, our sister circuits that have confronted the issue have concluded that Title IX claims are most closely analogous to personal injury actions and, therefore, have borrowed the state statute of limitations for personal injury actions. See M.H.D. v. Westminster Sch., 172 F.3d 797, 803 (11th Cir. 1999); Lillard v. Shelby County Bd. of Educ., 76 F.3d 716, 728-29 (6th Cir. 1996); Egerdahl v. Hibbing Cmty. Coll., 72 F.3d 615, 618 (8th Cir. 1995); Bougher v. Univ. of Pittsburgh, 882 F.2d 74, 77-78 (3d Cir. 1989). This conclusion accords with our own practice of borrowing the state statute of limitations for personal injury actions for analogous federal discrimination actions brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983. See, e.g., Okure v. Owens, 816 F.2d 45, 49 (2d Cir. 1987), aff'd, 488 U.S. 235, 109 S.Ct. 573, 102 L.Ed.2d 594 (1989) (§ 1983); Tadros v. Coleman, 898 F.2d 10, 12 (2d Cir.) (per curiam), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 869, 111 S.Ct. 186, 112 L.Ed.2d 149 (1990) (§ 1981); cf. Morse v. Univ. of Vermont, 973 F.2d 122, 126 (2d Cir. 1992) (acknowledging that "the federal trend [for claims brought under Title VI] is to look to the statute of limitations used in analogous federal discrimination actions such as those brought under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1983"). In New York, personal injury claims must be filed within three years from the time the cause of action accrued. N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 214(5). Curto commenced this action in November 2001. Thus, all claims that accrued prior to November 1998, which includes claims related to the November 1997 exam, are time-barred.

Curto attempts to change this result by arguing that the time-barred events in 1997 were part of a continuing pattern of discrimination. Even were the 1997 events part of a continuing pattern of discrimination, the only injury Curto suffered was her expulsion from the Veterinary College in 1998. This argument gets Curto only so far as introducing the facts concerning the 1997 exam as relevant "background evidence in support of [the] timely claim [based on the 1998 expulsion]." Petrosino v. Bell Atlantic, 385 F.3d 210, 220 (2d Cir. 2004) (noting that termination claims under Title VII are discrete claims, but that evidence of previous promotion denials outside the limitations period may be relevant background evidence). But because, as discussed above, the claim based on the 1998 exam fails for independent reasons, the background facts are irrelevant. Alternatively, if the complaint is read as stating a separate Title IX claim based on the allegation that the 1997 exam was administered in a discriminatory manner, then that claim is properly dismissed as untimely.

"Because the statutes share the same goals and because Title IX mirrors the substantive provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, courts have interpreted Title IX by looking to the body of law developed under Title VI, as well as the caselaw interpreting Title VII." Yusuf v. Vassar Coll., 35 F.3d 709, 714 (2d Cir. 1994) (internal citations omitted).

Finally, we conclude that the District Court did not exceed its allowable discretion in denying Curto's motion for sanctions against the Cornell defendants. See Morley v. Ciba-Geigy Corp., 66 F.3d 21, 24 (2d Cir. 1995).

We have considered all of Curto's arguments on appeal and find them to be without merit. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the District Court dismissing Curto's complaint.


Summaries of

Curto v. Edmundson

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit
Dec 17, 2004
392 F.3d 502 (2d Cir. 2004)

holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the plaintiff's request for sanctions against the defendant where the district court dismissed plaintiff's claims

Summary of this case from Cardona v. Cmty. Access, Inc.

holding that New York's three-year personal-injury statute of limitations applied to student's Title IX claim against university located in New York

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finding N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214, which sets the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, supplies the limitations period for a civil rights claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in New York

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finding N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214, which sets the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, supplies the limitations period for a civil rights claim brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in New York

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adopting the same period for Title IX claims

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affirming district court's dismissal of plaintiff-appellant's ADA claims for failing to exhaust her administrative remedies

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affirming dismissal of ADA claims in the absence of evidence showing that plaintiff exhausted her administrative remedies prior to filing her ADA claim in federal court

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affirming dismissal of the plaintiffs ADA claim because there was no evidence in the record that the plaintiff had exhausted administrative remedies prior to filing the ADA claim in federal court

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affirming dismissal of pro se ADA claim where there was "no evidence in the record that [plaintiff] exhausted her administrative remedies prior to filing her ADA claim in federal court"

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In Curto, we agreed with our sister circuits that personal injury actions are the "most closely analogous" to Title IX claims, and thus applied New York's three-year statute of limitations to Title IX claims.

Summary of this case from Purcell v. N.Y. Inst. of Tech. Coll. of Osteopathic Med.

stating that the failure to administratively exhaust discrimination claims is basis for dismissal

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borrowing New York's personal injury limitation period

Summary of this case from Twersky v. Yeshiva Univ.

noting that a failure to exhaust administrative remedies is a prerequisite to filing an ADA claim in federal court

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noting that we borrow New York's three-year statute of limitations applicable to personal-injury actions when considering the timeliness of claims under § 1983

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applying three-year statute of limitations to Title IX claims

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establishing that Title IX claims are governed by the state-court personal injury statute of limitations, and that in New York, that limitation is three years

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In Curto, the Northern District of New York determined that a private veterinary college located within Cornell University (a private university), although it received some state funding, was a private institution.

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applying Title VII standards to Title IX cases

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In Curto, the Second Circuit held that the relevant state statute of limitations for personal injuries should apply to Title IX claims.

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noting that a three-year statute of limitations applies to claims asserted under Section 1983

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applying New York's three-year limitations period for personal injury claims to Title IX claim

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Case details for

Curto v. Edmundson

Case Details

Full title:Patricia J. CURTO, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Dr. Katherine EDMUNDSON, Dr…

Court:United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

Date published: Dec 17, 2004

Citations

392 F.3d 502 (2d Cir. 2004)

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