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Agrawal v. University of Cincinnati

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

November 21, 2017

Dharma P. Agrawal, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
University of Cincinnati, Defendant-Appellee.

         APPEAL from the Court of Claims of Ohio Ct. of Cl. No. 2015-00970

         On brief:

          Clodfelter & Gutzwiller, and Robert Gutzwiller; McFadden & Winner, and Mary Jane McFadden, for appellant.

         Argued:

          Mary Jane McFadden.

         On brief:

          Michael DeWine, Attorney General, Randal W. Knutti, and Emily Simons Taposci, for appellee.

         Argued:

          Randal W. Knutti.

          DECISION

          BRUNNER, J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, Dharma P. Agrawal, appeals a March 16, 2016 decision of the Court of Claims of Ohio dismissing his complaint for breach of contract against the University of Cincinnati ("the University"). Because we agree that the face of his complaint discloses that his claims were not brought within the statute of limitations, we affirm the dismissal. Based on there being no evidence in the record of a collective bargaining agreement, the Court of Claims could not find that Agrawal's claims were subject to or affected by a collective bargaining agreement and thereby dismissing pursuant to Civ.R. 12(B)(1). We thus affirm the Court of Claims' decision on grounds other than stated in its decision. We hold on de novo review that the court of claims had jurisdiction and could not dismiss pursuant to Civ.R. 12(B)(1), but because Agrawal filed his lawsuit in the Court of Claims after the statute of limitations had run, he failed to state a claim.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL POSTURE

         {¶ 2} On November 16, 2015, following years of litigation in both federal and state courts in search of the proper jurisdiction in which to bring his action, Agrawal filed suit against the University and the State of Ohio in the Court of Claims of Ohio. (Nov. 16, 2015 Compl.) The complaint set forth the parties and jurisdiction and alleged facts which read in their entirety as follows:

4. Professor Agrawal was appointed and hired, pursuant to a contract with the University of Cincinnati executed in 1998, as an educator and researcher. This contract remains in force to this date. Such contract is appended to this complaint as Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 2.
5.The University did not perform material parts of Agrawal's 1998 contract, and among other breaches, in 2006, Dean Montemagno, then Dean of the College of Engineering, and other University officials diverted approximately $360, 000 of Ohio Board of Regents ("OBR") Ph.D. Enhancement Initiative Funds, deriving from attached Exhibits 1 and 2, from Agrawal's control to Montemagno's control and, upon knowledge and belief, redistributed the money within the College. This caused Professor Agrawal not to be able to fund various research projects, students, and post-doctorate fellows as anticipated, causing irreparable harm to Agrawal's research, reputation, and professional standing.
6. All breaches of Agrawal's employment contract were performed by University officials, in their official capacities, and while acting on behalf of the University.
7. In further breach of Professor Agrawal's employment contract, the University promised to "encourage" him to "establish an interdepartmental center for distributed computing, " such encouragement to take various forms, including but not limited to providing a location for the center, two or more support faculty, $1oo, ooo or more of direct University funding, and additional matching funds to supplement the OBR funds. Said "encouragement" was never provided, causing difficulty and delay in the creation and operation of the interdepartmental center which resulted in significant damage to Agrawal's research, reputation, and professional standing.
8. In further breach of Professor Agrawal's employment contract, the University failed to provide stipends for various graduate students under Agrawal's tutelage, requiring Dr. Agrawal to look to outside sources of funding to support said students, and causing irreparable harm to Agrawal's research, reputation, and professional standing.
9. In further breach of Professor Agrawal's employment contract, Dean Montemagno notified Agrawal by letter dated October 3, 2008, that he was "not suited to hold the title of OBR Distinguished Professor" and that "[effective immediately, your title will be Professor of Computer Science, and you will be held to the workload requirements of all similarly situated professors in your department." Said action caused damage and ...

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