LARRY M. WELENC, Plaintiff,
THE UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE, Defendant.
Submitted: August 24, 2017
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss:
Granted Larry M. Welenc, Pro Se.
William E. Manning, Esq., and Gerard M. Clodomir, Esq. of
SAUL EWING, LLP, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorneys for the
University of Delaware.
case involves the alleged breach of a 1981 settlement
agreement between a student of the University of Delaware and
the University's administration, along with alleged
defamation by the University regarding the plaintiffs
academic and disciplinary record. The University has moved to
dismiss the claims as time-barred. The question before the
Court is whether the claims presented are barred by the
statute of limitations when the plaintiff became aware of the
alleged breach and defamation back in 2000. Due to the
extended time that elapsed after the plaintiffs discovery of
the facts underlying his claims, I conclude the claims are
time-barred and therefore grant the defendant's motion.
My reasoning follows.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
following facts are drawn from the amended complaint and the
documents it incorporates, drawing all reasonable inferences
in favor of the plaintiff. The facts involve events from the
plaintiffs college years through 2001.
1978, Larry Welenc ("Welenc") transferred from
Rider College in New Jersey to the University of Delaware
(the "University") to increase his chances for
admission to a master's program in geology. In 1979,
Welenc won the lottery for a room in Christina Hall
dormitory. Before he moved into Christina Hall, Welenc
received a visit from two fellow students. One was another
lottery-winning student who was designated to room with
Welenc, the other was the lottery-winner's friend, a
tackle from the University's football team. The visitors
warned Welenc that they would remove him if he tried to
occupy the room in Christina Hall the following spring. After
the visitors left, Welenc reported the incident to the
Director of Department Housing. Based on this experience,
Welenc avoided the football team members and anyone
associated with them.
months after the incident, a female student, who was a known
associate of the other lottery-winner, charged Welenc with
harassment. Five students expressed their concerns with
Welenc's behavior to the Dean of Students, Raymond Eddy.
Dean Eddy, along with the University's Behavior
Evaluation Committee (the "Committee"), required
Welenc to meet with the University Psychiatrist, Dr.
Spinelli. Welenc had been off campus and did not receive the
request for appointment. When Welenc failed to schedule an
appointment with Dr. Spinelli by the requested date, the
Committee directed Welenc to be withdrawn involuntarily from
the University. Welenc, upon learning of the request,
contacted Student Health Services and scheduled an evaluative
interview with Dr. Spinelli. After the interview, Dr.
Spinelli recommended Welenc's readmission.
the scheduled disciplinary hearing for Welenc's alleged
harassment was canceled because the female accuser and her
witnesses decided not to attend the hearing. The Associate
Dean of Students, Timothy Brooks, dropped the disciplinary
charges at the request of the security department. The
University readmitted Welenc, but restricted his access to
the residence and dining halls. Welenc suspected the
University administration made these restrictions made out of
Easter break in 1980, campus security confiscated several
marijuana plants from the Pencader Dormitory. Welenc, though
not a resident of Pencader, interceded on the
marijuana-growers' behalf to Dean Eddy. Welenc alleges
his intercession contributed to the administration's
malice toward him.
result of the disciplinary procedure and involuntary
withdrawal, Welenc incurred out-of-pocket expenses, lost
wages, and lost funds paid to the University. He also grew
concerned about the incident's effect on his academic
record and wanted his file destroyed. On July 7, 1980,
Welenc's attorney, Norman Levine, sent a letter to the
University claiming $8, 938.63 in damages.
University settled Welenc's claim for $1, 500 (the
"Settlement Agreement"). The letter confirming the
Settlement Agreement stated Welenc's files would "be
disposed of in the same manner as all student
files." The University also allegedly represented
they would not delay issuing his diploma upon graduation.
completed his course work in December 1979, but his major
required students to attend a summer field camp for geology
in Nevada during the summer of 1980. The University thus
awarded Welenc his degree after completion of the field camp
in August 1980. Welenc's diploma is dated 1981; Welenc
alleges he did not notice the date and assumed his diploma
was dated 1980.
1980, Welenc has applied to various government and private
positions. Some of those applications were rejected, he
believes, either because of the date on his diploma or
because the University conveyed to those prospective
employers an inaccurate version of Welenc's disciplinary
in the year 2000, Welenc discovered his diploma was dated
1981, rather than 1980, and he so informed the
University. The University explained to Welenc that,
at the time his diploma was issued, the University only
issued diplomas once every academic year and, because Welenc
did not complete his coursework by May 1980, his diploma was
not issued until the following academic year. Despite
Welenc's efforts, the University declined to change the
date on the diploma. In April 2017, Welenc filed suit against
the University alleging breach of contract, defamation, and
slander, as well as an order compelling the University to
change the date on his diploma. The University moved to
dismiss and the parties briefed and argued that motion.
Welenc also moved to sanction the University's attorney
for alleged derogatory statements and accusations of
argues the University maliciously altered the date of his
diploma and retained and disclosed the contents of his
student file because of the disciplinary incidents in 1979
and 1980. Welenc first argues the post-dating of his diploma,
as well as the retention of his student file, is a breach of
the 1981 Settlement Agreement with the University. He seeks
an order compelling the University to change the date of his
diploma to reflect the calendar year of his graduation.
Welenc also argues the University defamed him by
misrepresenting the date of his graduation and by disclosing
his record ...