News & Events

Chicago, November 13, 2020

Cooke, Skwiat Prevail Before Ninth Circuit in Accreditation/Common Law Due Process Challenge

Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP partner Patrick G. Cooke, along with associate Eric J. Skwiat, recently secured a decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirming an accreditation agency’s imposition of probation against one of its accredited members.

Cooke represented the defendant accrediting agency, the Council on Chiropractic Education, Inc. (CCE). CCE accredits chiropractic doctoral degree programs throughout the United States. When one such accredited program, National University of Health Sciences (NUHS), sought reaffirmation of its accreditation, CCE concluded NUHS was not fully compliant with all accreditation standards. Accordingly, CCE reaffirmed NUHS’s accreditation but also placed the program on probation. After NUHS’s appeal of the probation sanction was denied by CCE’s appeals panel, NUHS filed a complaint in federal court raising common law due process claims and seeking injunctive and declaratory relief. After full summary judgment briefing, the district court denied the relief sought by NUHS and affirmed CCE’s imposition of the probation sanction and the process by which it was imposed, with “[NUHS] to take nothing [on its complaint]….” NUHS appealed the district court’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision that CCE did not violate NUHS’s common law due process rights (1) by imposing a sanction of probation while contemporaneously reaffirming its accreditation status; and (2) by providing the member with notice and opportunity to respond to identified deficiencies, all as required pursuant to 20 U.S.C. §1099b and 34 C.F.R. Part 602. Finally, the Ninth Circuit dismissed as moot NUHS’s claims related to enforcement of one of CCE’s policies due to a change in Illinois licensing requirements for chiropractors.

More information on the case and the Ninth Circuit’s decision is available at this link.

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