Former Massachusetts Law Students Sues School For $100,000 Over Low Grade In Contracts

devlin_pageMassLawLogoMartin Odemena, a former law student at the Massachusetts School of Law, has taken the school to court over a D that he received in contracts. Odemena maintains that Professor Joseph Devlin clearly stated in his syllabus that a quiz would not count toward the final grade and then counted the score. It is an ironic position for Devlin (left) who specializes in drafting contracts. The result was that Odemena was suspended for academic performance and was unable to transfer to another school. He is suing for more than $100,000. The case is Odemena v. Devlin et al.

The lawsuit has been brought under the state consumer protection law, but faces a huge challenge. Such issues are generally left to the discretion of schools and particularly the professor. Moreover, law professor Peter Malaguti who acts as the school’s general counsel, investigated and found that Devlin told students during the first class that the quizzes would count for the grade. This statement was found in the notes of another student. Thus it is a conflict between the written description and a later oral amendment made in class.

A motion to dismiss seems likely and it would be quite an achievement if Odemena even made it to discovery in such a case.

Source: ABA Journal

53 thoughts on “Former Massachusetts Law Students Sues School For $100,000 Over Low Grade In Contracts”

    1. mark – every school I have ever taught at, the syllabus was considered an enforceable contract between the student and either the teacher or the school. After having one come back to bite me, I started putting in an escape clause for emergency situations.

  1. @Eric

    Devlin could not care whether you came to class or not. I missed class ONCE and I made it a priority to get someone to record the lecture for me. .It’s law school. Not Pre-K. I paid good money to have the privilege of sitting in Devlin’s class. I did well, I took the tests and I graduated.

    If Odemena could not do something as simple as show up to class to take a stupid quiz worth less than 5% of the total grade, then he should not be a lawyer and he was rightfully dismissed.

  2. What the Plaintiff is not telling you is that the suspension is a two-part process. In the first semester at MSL if your GPA falls below a 2.0, you are placed on Academic Probation (AP), AND given a chance next semester to bring up your grades above the 2.0 threshold. THEN, and ONLY THEN, if you do not bring your grades above a 2.0 threshold at the conclusion of the second semester, you are academically suspended. So, it’s not the D he’s complaining about. This student overall had bad grades.

    I know this because I am an MSL student. MSL has a very harsh C curve, and that is by design. Look, the situation is simple: it’s very easy to get into MSL, but it is hard as hell to stay in. Do the work, put in the time, and your hard work will pay off. It really is that simple. I did it. I’m taking the bar exam. If I could do it, and 3000+ other MSL students did it prior, then there is NO reason why Martin could not do it either. And quite frankly, the school did him a favor by dismissing him. He’s not cut out to be a lawyer.

    So, this Martin Odemena really needs to evaluate himself and stop dumping on Devlin.

    Devlin is a phenomenal professor. I’ve had him as a Professor. The man will help you if you do the work. He’s always been there when I had questions.

    Also, a majority of students would jump at the opportunity to augment quiz points. You’d be out of your mind not to do that.

    Also, the final was really 95+% of the grade. So, to be fair, how much of the 95% did he screw up to get the D and what about the other classes? Odemena’s problems are far more pervasive than his Complaint lets on. And he knows it.

  3. Prove that the complainant heard the oral amendment and was not obstructed from hearing it.

    Was there commotion in part of the classroom? Did the air conditioning unit activate? Did the Professor project throughout the room?

    What are the syllabus rules, guidelines and format at that institution? Are oral amendments to published syllabus items allowed?

    Is the syllabus to be taken seriously or is it casual, whimsical and frivolous?

    Are statutes, laws, legislation, rules and regulations typically amended orally?

  4. Question,

    We had sign-in attendance sheets. If that’s SOP at Mass Law, too, whether P was in class that day should be on record.

  5. Regarding the oral amendment, would all students be charged with constructive notice of the amendment is the plaintiff was not present in class that day. Most law schools allow for a limited number of permissible absences without excuse. If the amendment was not confirmed via email, could the plaintiff argue that he did not have notice of it?

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