Law School Did Not Breach Contract With Student Who Alleged The School Failed To Provide A Timely And Accurate Copy Of His Transcript

CATEGORY: Private Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Private Education
DATE: Sep 30, 2022

Marcus Silver (Silver) enrolled in West Los Angeles School of Law (Law School) in 2011. He took an introduction to law course in the summer of 2011 but the Law School academically dismissed Silver for receiving a failing grade in the course. He was therefore not able to enroll in any courses in the fall of 2011. In the spring of 2012, Silver allegedly retook the introductory course and earned a B. However, this grade was omitted from his official transcript. Silver alleged he then took a criminal practice course that summer, which was the only course he was allowed to take, and earned a D.

Later in 2012, Silver enrolled in North Western California University School of Law (NWCU). Toward the end of his first year there, he learned he needed to submit an official transcript from the Law School to the State Bar of California’s Office of Admissions (Bar) before taking his final exams. On October 7, 2013, Silver requested a copy of his transcript from Law School on an expedited basis. On October 25, he resubmitted his request but did not receive the transcript until December 5, 2013. By that time, the exam deadline passed.

Silver brought a breach of contract claim against Law School, alleging that his two requests for his transcript in October 2013 constituted written contracts between Silver and Law School; that Law School breached the contracts by “failing to timely satisfy its obligation to release accurate transcripts.” Additionally, Silver alleged that the transcript was not accurate and had omitted records of classes he had taken and passed. Silver alleged that due to the breach, he suffered damages of over 3 years of “wasted time, book, tuition and transportation expenses, anger, shame, embarrassment, and career earnings.”

The Law School moved for summary judgment and argued that no contract existed between it and Silver. It submitted evidence that Silver authorized the Law School to charge his credit card $50 for transcripts, and the Law School advised him that the payment was declined due to insufficient funds and that Silver contact the Law School to complete payment. The Law School also submitted evidence that the transcript showed him earning a C- in the introduction to legal studies course and the Law School sent a letter to Silver informing him that he had been academically dismissed for failing to meet the minimum academic requirements due to his grade in the introductory course, but that Silver could file a petition for readmission. The letter also stated that Silver would be refunded all charges for the Fall 2011 semester.

The transcript also showed that Silver enrolled in three courses for the Fall 2011 semester but did not receive a credit or grade in those courses. As for the summer 2012 criminal practice course, the transcript showed Silver earned a D. The Law School also submitted a letter in August 2012 informing Silver that he had been academically dismissed for failure to maintain the minimum academic requirements at the end of the summer 2012 term. The letter again noted that Silver could petition for readmission.

The trial court agreed with the Law School and entered judgment for the Law School. Silver appealed.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court and upheld the judgment. The elements for a breach of contract claim are (1) the existence of a contract, (2) the plaintiff’s performance of the contract or excuse for non-performance, (3) the defendant’s breach of the contract, and (4) resulting damage to the plaintiff. The Court of Appeal held that the Law School established it did not breach any contractual duty to Silver and Silver suffered no damages.

The Court of Appeal also rejected Silver’s notion that his transcript was not timely issued because the Law School presented evidence that the initial delay in producing the transcript was because Silver’s credit card payment was declined. When Silver resubmitted new payment information, the Law School issued the transcript within four days, on October 29, in compliance with the Law School’s policy that charges would be processed within seven business days. Therefore, there was sufficient evidence to show the Law School complied with its contractual duty (if any) to timely issue Silver’s transcript.

Additionally, Silver offered no evidence that the Bar did not receive the transcript in a timely fashion after the Law School issued the transcript on October 29. Silver also offered no evidence that the transcript was inaccurate. As to Silver’s alleged damages, the Law School presented a December 2013 letter from the Bar to Silver informing him that he was officially registered with the State Bar’s Office of Admissions. Therefore, if there was a delay in the Law School issuing the transcript, Silver was not prevented from registering for the Bar or taking his final exams at NWCU.

Silver v. Univ. of W. Los Angeles Sch. of Law (Cal. Ct. App. July 20, 2022) 2022 WL 2826399 (unpublished).


Private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities should review their enrollment contracts, policies, and procedures to ensure they are consistently responding to requests for transcripts and other pupil records.

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