Online university sued for failing to bestow PhD in philosophy after losing accreditation

By Eliza Walker | Oct 17, 2013

NEW ORLEANS – A student of the online Union Institute and University is suing after the university failed to bestow him with a doctorate in philosophy.

Samuel C. Davenport filed suit against Union Institute and University in the Orleans Parish Civil District Court on Aug. 7.

The plaintiff first enrolled in Union Institute and University in May 2000, when he began studies for a PhD in philosophy with a concentration in arts and sciences and a specialization in the black worship experience. He completed the class work and instruction via online classes from his residence in New Orleans.

In August 2005, the plaintiff had a final meeting with professors in preparation for graduating in October, and was told he had completed all the necessary requirements except for a contextual essay related to his dissertation.

As a result of Hurricane Katrina, the plaintiff was displaced for several years, and did not reenroll in the program until August 2011. In July 2012, the plaintiff was informed via email that the PhD program would close at the end of the year, and he would be unable to graduate.

The plaintiff alleges that he completed all his requirements before the program closed, and yet the university has indicated that the plaintiff would have to start over in the Humanities and Culture concentration program.

The plaintiff seeks damages not exceeding $75,000 for unjust enrichment and breach of contract.

The plaintiff is represented by J. Douglas Sunseri of Micaud & Sunseri LLC of Metarie.

The case has been assigned to Division A Judge Tiffany G. Chase.

Case no. 2013-07425

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