Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center v. Victor Tabi Enoh, M.D., 08-15-00257-CV (TexApp Dist 12/14/2016)
Doctors at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center declined to certify resident Dr. Victor Enoh for his final year of class credit in the center's residency program. The school claimed the decision was based on Dr. Enoh's misuse of a school-issued credit card and on Dr. Enoh lying to take a sick day. Dr. Enoh, alleging this action came in response to his reporting a supervisor's weeklong absence, appealed the decision at a hearing. When the appeal was denied, he sued the school, the supervisor, and one other program official on due-process grounds. Defendants filed a plea to the jurisdiction, which the trial court granted in part and denied in part. Defendants appealed, raising four issues: 1) Dr. Enoh had no liberty or property interest in the completion of the program; 2) Even if Dr. Enoh could establish an interest, the school afforded the process he was due; 3) Dr. Enoh did not assert a ultra vires claim against the named doctors to overcome sovereign immunity; and 4) Dr. Enoh's claim for declaratory relief was based upon premises that were barred. The appeals court did not reach a decision as to the first count, but agreed with appellants on the second count that even if Dr. Enoh could establish an interest he was granted sufficient process via his hearing. The court found that the decision was grounded in a student-teacher relationship and was made on academic grounds, requiring less process than an employee-employer relationship and disciplinary grounds. However, the court also found that the hearing, and the notification for it, would pass the higher level of process required for a disciplinary dismissal. The court also held that Dr. Enoh had no available ultra vires exception, in large part because the named doctors properly granted him due process. Lastly, the court held that Texas Tech is protected by sovereign immunity and is not a proper party to Dr. Enoh's claim for declaratory relief. The court rendered judgment dismissing the case. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center v. Victor Tabi Enoh, M.D., El Paso Court of Appeals, No. 08-15-00257-CV, 12/14/16.
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