A Nazareth woman who sued Lehigh University for $1.3 million over a C+ grade and lost has filed post-trial motions asking the court to reverse its decision or grant a new trial.
Megan Thode’s attorney, Richard J. Orloski, contends in a motion for “judgment notwithstanding the verdict” that Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano erred in his interpretation of the law in ruling in Lehigh's favor.
In the paperwork filed Monday, Orloski argues that the attorney for Lehigh, Neil Hamburg, misstated the law that should apply and Giordano relied on that misstatement in issuing the verdict.
According to Orloski, the judge observed that a zero grade for class participation was “not comprehensible, or words to that effect.”
Orloski also contends “no professor at the College of Education ever gave a zero for class participation in the history of the College of Education.” The lowest grade ever given was 20, providing proof that something happened outside of the academic norm in Thode’s class.
The zero knocked down Thode’s grade by a full letter, according to testimony by Amanda Eckhardt, the student teacher for the class, according to The Express-Times.
The C+ grade given during the fall 2009 semester forced Thode out of the graduate counseling program, ending her dream of becoming a licensed professional counselor. She instead got a master’s degree in human development and works as a drug and alcohol counselor, according to The Morning Call.
Lehigh contends that Thode did not deserve a higher grade because she demonstrated “unprofessional conduct” in class. In his post-trial motions, Orloski calls that claim “bogus” and writes that the university never followed its own disciplinary procedures with Thode.
. She was attending graduate classes in Lehigh’s School of Education tuition free because her father, Stephen Thode, is a Lehigh finance professor.
The $1.3 million sought in the lawsuit was the difference in lifetime earning potential between the degree Thode sought and the one she ultimately received, according to Orloski.