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DOCUMENT: Former student files lawsuit against university and management department chair
A former Webster student claims in a lawsuit that Management Department Chair James Brasfield made a promise in 2004 to allow him to return to the management program after extended leave from the university. A promise that Gordon Jett, the former student, claims Webster failed to honor five years later when he sought reinstatement to Webster University.
According to case documents, Jett enrolled in 1997 in the doctor of management program at Webster University. In 1999, Jett claims he was told the program was undergoing a “major curriculum overhaul.” Jett said he was offered the chance to complete the original program or participate in a replacement program. Jett elected to finish the original program. In their rebuttals, Webster and Brasfield said they did not have sufficient information on any curriculum transformation.
Between 1997 and 2001, Jett claims he completed the exams and classes required for the management program. To finish the program, Jett said he had to complete a doctoral project with the participation of a faculty member. However, due to the curriculum overhaul, Jett claims Webster faculty told him they would not be able to participate for a number of reasons. Webster denies this claim.
Jett claims he sought a leave of absence from the program for up to two years. The academic catalog allows the five-year time limit to complete a program to be suspended if a student decides to leave the program with the intent to return.
Rather than accept the leave of absence, Jett alleges Brasfield offered him an extension of time to complete the doctoral project. Jett quotes Brasfield as saying, “You will not have trouble getting an extension of time from me, when you have a feasible project and a reasonable timeline for completion.”
Webster claims Jett only quotes a portion of Brasfield’s statement and mischaracterizes his comments. Jett claims he accepted Brasfield’s offer, which Brasfield denies.
It is Webster’s policy not to comment on cases in litigation. Jett is suing Webster and Brasfield for and in excess of $25,000 for reinstatement, damages, court costs and anything else the court deems necessary. Jett, who filed his suit in May 2013, claims both Webster and Brasfield committed negligent and fraudulent misrepresentation, promissory estoppel, and violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary describes promissory estoppel as the legal principle that prevents Person A from reneging on a promise made to Person B, under the condition that that person B has reasonably relied on the promise and will suffer losses if the promise is broken. Jett is also suing Webster specifically for breach of contract. He is demanding the case be heard by a jury.
Webster and Brasfield deny all of these claims. Writing in its defense, Webster claims that any damages that Jett may have sustained because of this situation, are “the result of the Plaintiff’s own fault, neglect, wrongful acts, and/or omissions, and not any alleged conduct on the part of Webster.”
Jett claims in March 2005, he was diagnosed with a “serious medical condition.” After this recovery, Jett alleges he closed his business as he prepared to come back to Webster. A Gordon Erich Jett is listed as the registered agent of “A Better Offer Corporation,” which was administratively dissolved in January 2009. According to the Missouri Secretary of State, “A Better Offer Corporation,” sold insurance and offered marketing and consulting services to clients.
In 2009, Jett began the process of reinstatement to Webster. However, Jett claims on Oct.1, 2009, Webster denied his request, citing Jett had exceeded the “maximum timeline for completion,” of the management doctorate. Jett said he informed Webster about the promise from Brasfield, but that the university said he was required to have completed the degree by October 2004.
Jett claims Brasfield expressed his promise of an extension both verbally and in writing after October 2004. He claims he was never issued a letter of dismissal or termination from the management doctorate program at Webster.