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Deen v. New Sch. Univ.

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

March 27, 2007, Decided ; March 27, 2007, Filed

05 Civ. 7174 (KMW)

Opinion

OPINION AND ORDER

KIMBA M. WOOD, U.S.D.J.:

This lawsuit by current and former drama students at New School University ("New School") arises from changes to New School's graduate drama program. Beginning in 1994, New School contracted with The Actors Studio, Inc. ("Actors Studio" or "Studio") to jointly offer a master's degree program in dramatic arts, under the name "The Actors Studio Drama School of New School University." The contract expired in 2005, and the degree program was renamed "The New School for Drama." Plaintiffs, who are students in and graduates of the degree program, 1 allege that the name change and other alterations to the program constitute breach of contract and deceptive business practices by New School, the Defendant. 2 Defendant has moved [*2]  to dismiss, and Plaintiffs have cross-moved for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiffs' cross-motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

On April 1, 1994, New School signed a ten-year contract with the Actors Studio, whereby New School, in collaboration with the Actors Studio, would offer a master's degree in dramatic arts. (Lupone Aff., Ex. 1, P 1.) The Actors Studio agreed to develop the curriculum for the program, propose faculty members, and recommend [*3]  students for admission; New School agreed to provide facilities, control academic and admissions requirements, employ faculty and staff, and oversee the program's finances and management. (Id. PP 5.1, 6.) New School also agreed to prepare all advertising, in consultation with the Actors Studio. (Id. P 6.8.) The contract specified that the parties' agreement would terminate on June 30, 2004. (Id. P 8.)

New School published a catalogue every other year describing and promoting the Actors Studio Drama School of New School University. (See Kapoor Aff., Ex. B [hereinafter "Catalogue"]; see also id., Ex. C.) 3 The catalogue contains a paragraph entitled "Policy on Catalogue Changes," which reads: "Course offerings, semester point evaluations, academic requirements, degree programs, tuition, fees, facilities, and faculty listed in this catalogue are subject to change without notice." (Catalogue 34.)

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2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25295 *; 2007 WL 1032295

SHIREEN DEEN, AURIN SQUIRE, LATOYA NASH, TERINA WESTMEYER, and MEGAN KILIAN, Plaintiffs, -against- NEW SCHOOL UNIVERSITY, Defendant.

Subsequent History: Class certification denied by Deen v. New Sch. Univ., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7846 (S.D.N.Y., Feb. 1, 2008)

CORE TERMS

catalogue, Drama, summary judgment, graduates, Changes, ambiguous, promised, Local Rule, disclaimer, parties, notice, subject to change, offerings, practices, deceptive, programs, seminars, faculty, summary judgment motion, faculty member, diplomas, craft, breach of contract, extrinsic evidence, right to change, unambiguously, videotape, workshops, benefits, finalist