UND General Info | UND Medical School | UND Discussion | Other Sites | Look Back


A lawsuit by a former UND student claiming he was unfairly dismissed from the university's occupational therapy program has been moved from state district court in Bismarck to Grand Forks.

Dale Kliethermes, 31, of Bismarck claims UND breached a contract with him by violating procedures in its Code of Student Life and discriminated against him because he was a male in what he described as a "female-dominated" profession.

He alleges that he spent $20,000 toward becoming a nationally certified occupational therapist only to be denied a chance to complete the necessary field experience at UND.

The occupational therapy department said his coursework was unsatisfactory when it dismissed him in January 1990.

In the suit filed this March, Kliethermes asks the court to reinstate him in the UND occupational therapy program and award him at least $30,000 a year in lost income, plus other damages for emotional suffering and humiliation.

UND attorneys denied the accusations, cooled the suit frivolous and claimed protection from the action under provisions of "sovereign immunity."

UND won the change of venue recently moving the case from district in Burleigh County to Grand Forks County. That's where all the university records, witnesses and most of the defendants are according to Patrick Fisher, a Grand Forks attorney representing UND in the case.

No court hearing date has been scheduled yet in Grand Forks.

Named as defendants are UND. UND President Thomas Clifford; Sue McIntyre, who chairs the occupational therapy department, Debra Byram, Sheryl Teman, Dory Marken and Sonia Zimmerman, occupational therapy faculty; Monty Nielsen, Mary Askim, Bette Olson, Martha Meek, Theodore "Ted" Pedeliski, Patricia Videtich and John Vitton, members of the Student Academic Standards Committee of UND, and Marla Wonser and Kay Tegt, both identified as members of the clinical faculty of the UND occupational therapy department at West Central Community Colleges Services Center in Wilmar, Minn.

Both Wonser and Tegt have denied being members of the UND department's clinical faculty.

Kliethermes says he filed a grievance about the way the occupational therapy department handled his case with the UND College of Human Resources and Development and won an appeal to be reinstated in the program. But he said McIntyre and the department won a reversal of the decision from the academic standards committee chaired by Nielsen, UND's registrar.

He said the handling of the case denied him his rights as a student to protect his personal records and to have another chance of completing a field experience.

The defendants said, in their answers to complain, that Kliethermes had been placed on probation and had failed to produce a psychological evaluation report adequate to allow him to be rescheduled into another field experience after the one in Willmar ended.

Occupational therapists work with physically and developmentally disabled people in a variety of settings, group homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and long term care units for example.

Source: Grand Forks Herald May 30, 1991