This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat.§ 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




Rosalind Harper,



North Hennepin Community College, et al.,


Filed August 19, 1997


Kalitowski, Judge

Hennepin County District Court

File No. 9610751

Jesse Gant III, Gant Law Office, 500 Flour Exchange Building, 310 Fourth Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55415 (for Appellant)

Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, Elaine J. Erickson, Assistant Attorney General, 1200 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondents)

Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Randall, Judge, and Kalitowski, Judge.



Appellant Rosalind Harper challenges the district court's order dismissing her claims of: (1) discrimination; (2) aiding and abetting; (3) reprisal; and (4) failure to accommodate under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. Appellant also claims the district court abused its discretion in denying her motion to amend her complaint. We affirm.


If the district court considers matters outside the pleadings, a motion to dismiss is treated as one for summary judgment. Minn. R. Civ. P. 12.02. On appeal from summary judgment, a reviewing court determines whether any genuine issues of material fact exist and whether the district court erred in its application of the law. Wartnick v. Moss & Barnett, 490 N.W.2d 108, 112 (Minn. 1992). In doing so, the court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. State by Beaulieu v. City of Mounds View, 518 N.W.2d 567, 571 (Minn. 1994). However, a party cannot rely on speculation or general assertions to create a genuine issue of material fact. Nicollet Restoration, Inc. v. City of St. Paul, 533 N.W.2d 845, 848 (Minn. 1995). Further, "[s]ummary judgment is appropriate when a party 'fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case.'" Iacona v. Schrupp, 521 N.W.2d 70, 72 (Minn. App. 1994) (quoting Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986)). No deference need be given to the district court's application of the law. Frost-Benco Elec. Ass'n v. Minnesota Pub. Utils. Comm'n, 358 N.W.2d 639, 642 (Minn. 1984).


The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) prohibits an educational institution from discriminating, in any manner, in the full utilization of or benefit of its services because of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation, or disability. Minn. Stat. § 363.03, subd. 5(1) (1996). Discrimination claims under the MHRA are analyzed under the McDonnell Douglas test, which consists of a prima facie case, an answer, and a rebuttal. Sigurdson v. Isanti County, 386 N.W.2d 715, 720 (Minn. 1986).

When a prima facie claim cannot be established by direct evidence, a test has been established by the courts to determine whether it can be established indirectly. Id. Here, the test, modeled after the McDonnell Douglas test, is whether: (1) appellant is a member of a protected class; (2) appellant was a student at NHCC; (3) appellant sought services or benefits that were available, but not provided to appellant; and (4) NHCC provided those services or benefits to nonprotected class members who were similarly situated. See Hubbard v. United Press Int'l, Inc., 330 N.W.2d 428, 442 (Minn. 1983) (establishing prima facie test and requiring the test be modified for varying factual patterns).

Appellant claims she was discriminated against because a white student was allowed to test in a separate room while appellant, a black student, was denied the same opportunity. We disagree. Because the white student was sick on the day of the test and appellant was not, they are not similarly situated. Further, appellant had not been tested and diagnosed as having a disability at the time of her request. Accordingly, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of respondents on this claim.


The MHRA prohibits a person from aiding, abetting, inciting, compelling, or coercing another person into violating its provisions. Minn. Stat. § 363.03, subd. 6 (1996). Because this provision is premised on the violation of the MHRA and we found no such violation, the district court properly granted summary judgment against appellant on this claim.


The MHRA prohibits an educational institution from intentionally engaging in any reprisal against a person because that person:

(1) Opposed a practice forbidden under this chapter or has filed a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this chapter; or

(2) Associated with a person or group of persons who are disabled or who are of different race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin.

Minn. Stat. § 363.03, subd. 7 (1996). Reprisals include, but are not limited to, any form of intimidation, retaliation, or harassment. Id.

The three-part procedure of shifting production burdens set out in McDonnell Douglas is applicable to reprisal claims. Hubbard, 330 N.W.2d at 444. To establish a prima facie claim of reprisal, a party must demonstrate: (1) she engaged in statutorily protected conduct; (2) adverse action was taken against her; and (3) a causal connection exists between the two. Id.

The basis of appellant's reprisal claim is that she was not given a "withdrawal" or "incomplete" as promised. The record does not support appellant's claim. Appellant's request was made after she had completed all of the course work and after the deadline to withdraw had passed, while the white student who was allowed to withdraw did so before the deadline. Further, appellant has provided no evidence that anyone with appropriate authority made the alleged promises. Therefore, the district court properly determined appellant has failed to establish a causal connection between her conduct and any alleged adverse action.


The MHRA makes it an unfair discriminatory practice for an educational institution to "fail to ensure physical and program access for disabled persons." Minn. Stat. § 363.03, subd. 5(1). A disabled person is any person who

(1) has a physical, sensory, or mental impairment which materially limits one or more major life activities;

(2) has a record of such an impairment; or

(3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

Minn. Stat. § 363.01, subd. 13 (1996).

Appellant claims she "had a record and history of a learning disability/impairment, dating back to when she was tested by Respondent College's Disability Assistance Services Office." The record does not support appellant's claim that she had a record of an impairment or was regarded as having an impairment. Rather, the record indicates appellant was consistently told that she needed to get tested for a learning disability before anything could be done for her. Appellant's claim that she was tested in the spring of 1996 is contrary to the record. Further, the record indicates that immediately after appellant made an appointment to be tested, she was provided accommodation. Based on these facts, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of respondents on this claim.


The determination of whether to grant a motion to amend a complaint is committed to the district court's discretion and its decision will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion. CPJ Enters., Inc. v. Gernander, 521 N.W.2d 622, 625 (Minn. App. 1994) (citing Utecht v. Shopko Dep't Store, 324 N.W.2d 652, 654 (Minn. 1982)). "A motion to amend a complaint may be properly denied when the additional claim could not survive summary judgment." Id.

Appellant sought to amend her complaint to include a claim under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, claiming respondents failed to go through the proper procedure for obtaining nonpublic data on her. Appellant's claim lacks legal support. Contrary to appellant's assertion, neither Erickson v. McArthur, 414 N.W.2d 406 (Minn. 1987), nor Minn. Stat. § 13.03, subd. 6 (1996), require respondents to follow certain procedures to obtain documents they already legally possess. Accordingly, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying appellant's motion to amend her complaint.

Both parties raise arguments regarding official immunity. Because appellant does not have any viable claims and the district court did not rule on this issue, we need not address it.