Cases

Karen Bower has litigated several significant cases in this area of law, including:
 
Nott v. George Washington University  

In the Fall of 2004, Jordan Nott was a straight-A student at George Washington University (GWU).  He became depressed after a close friend committed suicide.  He sought counseling at the university’s counseling center, and began taking antidepressants.  His depression worsened, and concerned about a negative drug reaction, he voluntarily admitted himself to the university hospital for emergency psychiatric treatment.

Upon learning of Nott’s hospitalization, university officials charged him with endangering behavior, a violation the school code of conduct.  They suspended him, evicted him from his dorm and threatened him with arrest for trespassing if he entered university property.

Within hours of his admission, Nott got a letter saying that he could not return to his dorm without receiving clearance from the university counseling center and the residence hall.  The following day, while he was still in the hospital, he received another letter charging him with “endangering behavior” in violation of the university’s code of conduct.  How his life preserving efforts to get treatment were endangering remains a mystery.

Nott could attend a disciplinary hearing and, if found guilty of violating the student code of conduct, would face suspension or expulsion.  Or he could withdraw from the University and seek readmission upon proof that he had successfully completed medical treatment, had been symptom-free for six months and could live independently and perform successfully.  He chose to withdraw and completed his studies at the University of Maryland.

Ms. Bower and others filed a complaint on his behalf.  In October 2005, George Washington University and Jordan Nott reached a settlement agreement to resolve the lawsuit.  The terms of the settlement are confidential.

CBS News Story about Jordan Nott case
First Amended Complaint

 Doe v. Hunter College  

The plaintiff, “Jane Doe,” admitted herself to Cabrini Medical Center after taking a large number of Tylenol pills and then calling 911.  When released from the hospital, she returned to her dorm to find that the locks to her room had been changed and she was barrred from the  residence hall.  She was allowed to remove her belongings only in the presence of a security guard.  In August 2004, Karen Bower and others filed suit against the City University of New York (CUNY), of which Hunter College is part.  The suit sought damages and reform of the university’s policy of expelling students who express suicidal thoughts.

In August of 2006, the City University of New York agreed to pay $165,000 to settle the lawsuit.  The state university system agreed to review and revise its policies for responding to students who are hospitalized for suicidal ideation.  

 Katheryn Lyons sought help for depression, admitting to her coach, college officials and the counseling center that she was having thoughts of suicide.  She was given an interim suspension from the school, and charged with “reckless endangerment.”   The judicial board suspended her for one year and banned her from living on campus.   Karen Bower co-counseled a lawsuit alleging violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  In May 2009, the parties entered ito a confidential settlement agreement.

Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.

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