The First Department determined there was no ‘justiciable controversy” between Touro College (law school) and Novus University (law school). The declaratory judgment action was therefore properly dismissed. Touro, after admitting a Novus graduate into its LLM program, was sued by the Novus graduate when Touro refused to grant the LLM degree upon his successful completion of the program. The Novus graduate had misrepresented Novus as a foreign law school. Touro had successfully defended the lawsuit brought by the Novus graduate:
Touro, an institute of higher education, accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA), alleges that it and similarly-situated institutions have been harmed by Novus in that individuals who have received degrees from Novus, an online, non-ABA accredited law school, have applied to Masters of Law programs at law schools, including Touro, while falsely representing that Novus was a foreign institution. Touro maintains that there is a justiciable controversy between Touro and Novus warranting declaratory relief (CPLR 3001), since Touro was forced to defend against “meritless” litigation instituted by a Novus graduate who was denied a Touro LLM, after he was admitted to the program based on such a misrepresentation … .
A declaratory judgment is intended “to declare the respective legal rights of the parties based on a given set of facts, not to declare findings of fact” … . The general purpose of a “declaratory judgment is to serve some practical end in quieting or stabilizing an uncertain or disputed jural relation either as to present or prospective obligations” … . Thus, a declaratory judgment requires a “justiciable controversy,” in which not only does the plaintiff “have an interest sufficient to constitute standing to maintain the action but also that the controversy involve present, rather than hypothetical, contingent or remote, prejudice to plaintiffs” … . Touro’s allegations fail to identify any present controversy or disputed jural relationship between the parties to this action that would be resolved by issuance of the requested declaration. Touro Coll. v Novus Univ. Corp., 2017 NY Slip Op 00546, 1st Dept 1-26-17
CIVIL PROCEDURE (DECLARATORY JUDGMENT, NO JUSTICIABLE CONTROVERY BETWEEN LAW SCHOOL AND AN ALLEGED DIPLOMA MILL, DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTION PROPERLY DISMISSED)/DECLARATORY JUDGMENT (NO JUSTICIABLE CONTROVERY BETWEEN LAW SCHOOL AND AN ALLEGED DIPLOMA MILL, DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTION PROPERLY DISMISSED)/JUSTICIABLE CONTROVERSY (DECLARATORY JUDGMENT, NO JUSTICIABLE CONTROVERY BETWEEN LAW SCHOOL AND AN ALLEGED DIPLOMA MILL, DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTION PROPERLY DISMISSED)