Stock image of a German Shepherd

ITHACA, N.Y. — A federal judge has dismissed a $500,000 lawsuit against Cornell that stemmed from a dog bite at a university veterinary clinic.

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Karen Habitzreuther sued the university in federal court after a chain of events that began when her German Shepherd, Shandor, bit a fourth-year student clinician during an evaluation.

After the student clinician was bit, the Faculty Administrative Board held a hearing to determine if Habitzreuther — a second-year veterinary student — violated the university’s Honor Code by failing to disclose the dog’s “dominance aggression problems” before it was evaluated by the clinician.

Stock image of a German Shepherd
Stock image of a German Shepherd

The faculty board found in 2006 that Habitzreuther had violated the school’s Honor Code, and then suspended her for two years.

In response, Habitzreuther sued the university, alleging — among other things — “breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing … and fraudulent misrepresentation,” according to court documents.

That lawsuit was dismissed in a ruling from Judge Gary L. Sharpe on Tuesday.

Cornell won on all the claims, with the judge disagreeing with the assertions that the university breached its contract or dealt fraudulently with Habitzreuther.

“Habitzreuther claims that, by returning to Ithaca, repeating certain courses, and continuing with counseling, she performed her obligations under the contract, and, when defendants expelled her, they breached the contract, causing her damages,” Judge Sharpe writes.

“This is, to put it mildly, inventive pleading … Habitzreuther’s creative pleading only gets her so far, as her breach of contract claim fails on the merits.”

You can read the lawsuit in its entirety below:

2015-8-25 Habitzreuther-Memo Decision & Order (Granting Motion to Dismiss)

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.