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Saha v. Research Institute at Nationwide Childrens Hospital

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

September 26, 2013

Kunal Saha, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Research Institute at Nationwide Childrens Hospital, Defendant-Appellee.

APPEAL from the Franklin County Court C.P.C. No. 11CV-14336 of Common Pleas

Dagger, Johnston, Miller, Ogilive & Hampson, LLP, and D. Joe Griffith, for appellant.

Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, Jonathan R. Vaughn and Taryn M. Filo, for appellee.

DECISION

McCORMAC, J.

(¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Dr. Kunal Saha, appeals from the June 19, 2012 decision of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas granting the motion to dismiss, converted to a motion for summary judgment, filed by defendant-appellee, the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital ("the Institute").

I. Facts and Procedural History

(¶ 2} In June 1998, Dr. Saha accepted a joint appointment as a research faculty member at the Institute and a tenure-track assistant professor in The Ohio State University's Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine. See Saha v. The Ohio State Univ., 10th Dist. No. 10AP-1139, 2011-Ohio-3824, ¶ 3-4.

(¶ 3} In Saha, this court provided a detailed account of Dr. Saha's time with the Institute and The Ohio State University ("OSU"). We found, in pertinent part:

Dr. Saha's position was that of a primary researcher. He was placed in charge of a lab and given a support staff and postdoctoral students for his work in AIDS research. Dr. Saha was simultaneously employed by both OSU and the Columbus Children's Hospital as a member of the Children's Research Institute ("CRI").
In December 2001, Dr. Saha travelled to India to lecture at an AIDS conference. He was scheduled to return in a few weeks. Dr. Saha testified that, while in India, his lawyers petitioned the Federal Supreme Court of India to allow Dr. Saha's criminal negligence case against his deceased wife's doctors to proceed to trial. This was allowed by the court on the condition that Dr. Saha attend the trial.
Dr. Saha remained in India through January and February 2002. In early March, Dr. Saha requested a leave of absence which was approved by the OSU Board of Trustees at their April 5, 2002 meeting.
Dr. Saha returned to Columbus at the end of April 2002. On May 1, 2002, Dr. Saha was informed that his CRI internal support package for his laboratory research would end June 30, 2002.
Dr. Saha testified that the loss of internal support reduced his lab staff from five or six to two or three with which he was unable to continue with his research at the same level as before.

Id. at ¶ 4-12.

(¶ 4} Dr. Saha continued his laboratory work, but the reduction in financial support and resources "had a negative effect on [his] overall research progress." (R. 24, Dr. Saha's Affidavit, at 1, hereinafter "Saha Affidavit, at__ .".) After a lengthy, multi level promotion and tenure review process, Dr. Saha was informed on September 25, 2005, that OSU would not be offering him tenure.

(¶ 5} In July 2005, Dr. Saha filed a lawsuit against the Institute and OSU in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division ("Lawsuit I"), but the court dismissed the action on October 26, 2005 for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction and failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Saha v. The Ohio State Univ., S.D.Ohio No. 05-CV-675 (Oct. 26, 2005). On March 13, 2006, Dr. Saha re-filed his suit in the United States District Court ("Lawsuit II"), naming as defendants the Institute, OSU, and several employees from the Institute and OSU. Saha v. The Ohio State Univ., S.D.Ohio No. 2:06-CV-190 (Feb. 1, 2007). On June 28, 2006, Dr. Saha filed an amended complaint, which named additional OSU employees as defendants. Dr. Saha's amended allegations against the Institute included federal claims for breach of contract, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1981, violation of equal protection and due process, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983, and race and national origin discrimination under Title VII, as well as state law claims for unjust enrichment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and discrimination under R.C. 4112.99.

(¶ 6} In its February 1, 2007 decision, the federal District Court held that Dr. Saha's federal law claims failed to state a cause of action against the Institute. Having dismissed all of Dr. Saha's federal law claims, the court declined to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over Dr. Saha's state law claims, dismissing those claims without prejudice. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the United States District ...


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