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Bernstein v. Apollo Group, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

September 2, 2014

APOLLO GROUP, INC., et al., Defendants.


LUCY H. KOH, District Judge.

Currently before the Court is Defendants Apollo Group, Inc. ("Apollo") and University of Phoenix, Inc.'s ("UOP") (collectively, "Defendants") Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff M. Helen Bernstein's ("Bernstein") Second Amended Complaint. ("Mot.") ECF No. 205. Also before the Court is Bernstein's Request to Schedule Rule 16 Scheduling Conference. ECF No. 236. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court concludes that this matter is appropriate for determination without oral argument and accordingly VACATES the hearing and case management conference scheduled for September 4, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. Having considered the submissions of the parties and the relevant law, the Court hereby GRANTS Defendants' Motion to Dismiss with prejudice. Bernstein's Request to Schedule Rule 16 Scheduling Conference is DENIED as moot.


A. Factual Background

Defendant Apollo provides educational programs at the high school, college, and graduate levels. ("SAC") ¶ 4, ECF No. 203. Apollo's subsidiary, Defendant UOP, offers associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral degree programs in a number of fields, including criminal justice. Id. ¶ 5. Bernstein received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from Phoenix in 2006 and "completed online classes for Masters of Justice and Security Administration" in 2008. Id. ¶ 3. However, Bernstein was unable to obtain a job in the criminal justice field. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. On April 16, 2013, Bernstein, proceeding pro se, filed the present action, asserting claims against Apollo and Phoenix for fraud, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. ECF No. 1; see also ("MTD Order I") ECF No. 201 at 2. Bernstein subsequently amended her complaint, such that she now brings claims for: (1) fraud; (2) breach of contract; (3) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (4) concealment; (5) reliance; (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (7) negligent infliction of emotional distress; (8) false promise; (9) intentional misrepresentation; (10) negligent misrepresentation; (11) opinions as statement of fact; and (12) invasion of privacy. SAC at 1.

The facts underlying all twelve of Bernstein's asserted causes of action are essentially the same. Specifically, Bernstein alleges that Defendants made various misrepresentations to her regarding the nature and value of her criminal justice degrees. Bernstein alleges that prior to enrolling at UOP in August of 2004, Fariba Showghi, "an employee and authorized agent of [D]efendants, " and Nancy P., also an "employee of UOP and authorized agent", informed Bernstein: (1) that a degree in criminal justice would enable Bernstein to obtain a job as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"); (2) that "credits obtained from education at defendants[] institutions were and would be transferrable to any university or college;" and (3) that Bernstein would have lifetime access to UOP's "Student Resource Center[s]." Id. ¶¶ 8-9. Bernstein alleges that various UOP professors repeated the representation that a degree in criminal justice from UOP would enable Bernstein to get a job as an FBI special agent at various times during Bernstein's time as a student at UOP. Id. ¶¶ 15-18. Bernstein further alleges that Joan Rodrigues, the "manager/director" of UOP's Fremont campus, similarly represented that credits from UOP would be transferable to any other learning institution. Id. ¶¶ 14, 27.

Bernstein maintains that all three representations made to her upon enrolling at UOP in 2004 were false. Bernstein contends that upon applying for a job with the FBI, which Bernstein claims to have done in 2008, 2009, and 2010, she discovered that her degrees from UOP did not qualify her for a position as an FBI special agent. Id. ¶ 27. Bernstein further contends that she discovered that her credits from UOP were not transferable to "any university or college" in October 2011, when she unsuccessfully attempted to transfer her credits to a real estate program at Ohlone College. Id. Bernstein also claims that she was prevented from using a UOP student resource center for personal business in spite of Defendants' representation that she would enjoy lifetime access to these centers. Id. ¶ 29.

Bernstein identifies additional purported misrepresentations made by UOP employees. Bernstein claims that Joan Rodrigues claimed to have an MBA when she did not. Id. ¶ 27. Bernstein also alleges that several of her professors lied about their academic credentials and professional achievements. Id. ¶¶ 15-17.

Finally, Bernstein states claims arising out of an incident that occurred in the student resource center at UOP's San Jose campus on July 23, 2012. Bernstein alleges that she was using the student resource center to make copies for personal use when Joan Rodrigues "burst" in and "remov[ed] [Bernstein's] documents from the copier." Id. ¶ 67. Rodrigues allegedly looked at the documents, which contained unspecified private medical information, and informed Bernstein that the documents were not related to academics. Id. Rodrigues then told Bernstein: "You cannot use the copier for non-academic related tasks. This is a green campus." Id. Bernstein contends that this incident violated Defendants' promise that she would enjoy lifetime access to UOP student resource centers and also constituted a violation of Bernstein's privacy. Id.

B. Procedural History

Bernstein filed her original complaint in this action on April 16, 2013. ECF No. 1. Bernstein filed an amended complaint adding parties on May 22, 2013. ECF No. 11. Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint. ECF No. 13. Prior to the Court ruling on Defendants' motion to dismiss, Bernstein sought and receive leave of the court to file a First Amended Complaint, ECF No. 47, which Bernstein filed on July 17, 2013, ("FAC") ECF No. 49.

Defendants subsequently moved to dismiss the FAC. ECF No. 55. The Court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss on February 28, 2014. MTD Order I. Although the Court expressed "grave reservations [about] whether Bernstein c[ould] cure the pleading defects" identified in the Court's first MTD Order, the Court nevertheless granted Bernstein leave to amend. Id. at 5. In the first MTD Order, the Court additionally denied several motions for joinder seeking to add Nancy Tarleton ("Tarleton") and Krislee Cardinal Hall ("Hall") as plaintiffs. Id. at 10-11. The Court reasoned that the "lengthy and meandering" joinder motions did not explain the factual basis for joinder of these would-be plaintiffs, who raised claims that appeared to arise out of a different series of events than those giving rise to Bernstein's claims.[1] Id.

Bernstein filed the SAC on March 19, 2014. ECF No. 203. Defendants filed the instant Motion to Dismiss the SAC on April 7, 2014. Mot. Bernstein did not file an opposition to Defendants' Motion, but rather filed, on April 8, 2014, a response arguing that Defendants' Motion was "premature as the Second Amended Complaint has not been deemed a live pleading conforming to [the first MTD Order]."[2] ECF No. 207 at 1. Defendants filed a reply in support of their Motion to Dismiss on April 28, 2014. ECF No. 214. On May 16, 2014, Bernstein filed a Request to Schedule Rule 16 Scheduling Conference. ECF No. 236.

Since the inception of this case, Bernstein has also filed over two dozen motions seeking to compel discovery. See ECF Nos. 160-165, 169-171, 173-182, 228-229, 234, 239-240, 242-243, 245, 252. This Court denied some of these motions in its First MTD Order, see MTD Order I at 11-12, and Magistrate Judge Paul Singh Grewal denied the remainder without prejudice to their ...

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