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Suing Medical Schools For Screw-Up

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by jack.bauer, Jul 28, 2006.

  1. jack.bauer

    jack.bauer Member
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    Yes, it sounds over the top, but hear my story. It is an important one which I think everyone who is applying ought to read especially as it involves medical schools screwing up my application and rejecting me without apologizing or even recognizing their screw-up.
    At my school, the people who do my letters of recommendation send them to my pre-medical committee who then send them to the medical schools to which I am applying. My committee forgot to send a very important reccomendation letter regarding my research for the past 2 years. The committee received it from my P.I., but due to misfiling they did not send it out to any schools. It was definitely an important recc; my pre-med tutor had mentioned that it was my strongest letter of recc.
    All the schools to which I applied listed my application as complete before I had found out about the missing letter. When I called them to confirm, they insisted that what was on the internet was final and so if it said complete, then it was. It was not complete. I had even written on the application that in the packet of letters they were supposed to receive my research letter of recc. No one called or emailed. I only received 2 interviews and none mentioned my missing recc.
    Late March, by the time most schools had made their final decisions and were sending out letters, Harvard Med called up my pre-medical committee to tell them that they were missing the letter. By that time, however, it was already too late for many schools to overturn their decisions.
    I am wondering who the burden of responsibility for this error lies. I argue that it is not my fault because I did everything in my power to determine whether my application was complete. I also believe that while my pre-med committee did make the mistake of not sending the letter even though they received it, they are not worthy of a lawsuit because there was no way for them to determine, after they had sent the packets, whether or not it was complete. I conclude that the medical schools are at fault for having listed my application as complete even though they had not received my letter, even though it was written on my application. They have the burden of responsibility to ensure that everything in my application is on file before stating it is complete online and then, when I call, to say that it is complete without checking the file for me. Yes, the admissions offices are busy and receive a lot of phone calls from wearied applicants, but I paid them $40-60! I would not initiate a lawsuit to get into their schools or even to get my $40 back. I would sue for the benefit of future applicants who may fall into the same situation as me. I do not want the neglect of admissions offices to destroy a person's entire future career. I feel that it is a principle worth fighting for.
     
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  3. slb830

    slb830 Senior Member
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    So, it sucks. However, I am sure you are not alone. I think this is one of those times that you just need to roll with the punches and apply again. While I know how important letter of recs are - I do find it hard to believe that one letter is the sole determinant of your fate. You are more than one letter.

    My top choice school had my MCAT scores 4 points lower than they should have been. I think many people have experienced problems with the application process - it is just life.

    I do not think suing anybody in this situation will be a positive situation for any party.

    Did you get into a school this cycle?

    I do feel your pain......
     
  4. silas2642

    silas2642 silas2642
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    Just remember the concept of karma before you sue, oh yeah, and grow up.
     
  5. RRT2MD

    RRT2MD Member
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    Jack-

    From what you outline, and the way I have observed the system, your pre-health committee holds the ball on this one. THEY are suppossed to provide you with a more personalized approach than a medical school. THEY are suppossed to HELP you get into school.
    I have spent periods of my 30+ years on this planet "seeing no evil, speaking no evil, and hearing no evil", but in your situation I smell evil. And you are very correct that medical schools are just too overwhelmed to give everyone personalized attention. (Regardless of the fee. That is just to cover the cost of some student worker to open mail and answer the phone.)
    See if your Univ has an ombudsman who can talk to you.
    If that does'nt work Mossberg makes a great semi-auto combat shotgun. :laugh:

    Suerte.
    ~~RRT, NREMT-P
     
  6. nekrogg

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    suing them will get you into no med schools. write about it in your personal statement and say that experience pushed you further or somtehing. make positives out of negative. make lemon out of lemonade.

    When life gave Jack Bauer lemons, he used them to kill terrorists. Jack Bauer f**king hates lemonade.
     
  7. slb830

    slb830 Senior Member
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    Also - I don't know how your pre-med com works - but at my school they wrote me a composite letter that was the complimation of the interview I had at my undergrad school, and all my letters of rec. If your pre-med committee had this important letter of rec, did it make it into the composite letter (if they write one in this manner)?
     
  8. NYMC MD 2B

    NYMC MD 2B Member
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    That really sucks. However, I have heard similar stories in the past. A friend of mine had their application lost by a school, and they were never contacted or anything. However, they certainly did not sue for the 100 dollar application fee. You just have to chalk it up to typical human error, and move on with your life. In the future, try to be more anal when it comes to making sure schools have all of your paperwork, etc. I know you lost out on a lot of money, and are rightfully angry, but suing will just be a waste of your time and energy.
     
  9. Whichdoctor

    Whichdoctor We Don't Want YOU!
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    How do you make lemon out of lemonade? I think the saying is "make lemonade out of lemons."
     
  10. hermit

    hermit Senior Member
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    Cry me a river.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator
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    you sue. you get blacklisted. pretty simple. I dont even know if you can even sue, i dont know what case you can even build or what evidence you really have to go ahead with a case. Did you suffer emotional trauma? If all these schools had listed you as complete, are you going to sue them all? It certainly didnt fall on hands of med adcoms if ALL the schools you applied to happened to list you as complete. There must have been some sort of error on the sending end. Whatever teh case is, you suing (contingent, of course, if you can even build a case), is certainly going to draw attention to yourself. Next cycle when you apply, and assuming you are still not backlogged into the legal system waiting for trial, you will certainly be known as the kid who couldnt deal with the unforeseen and unexpected. how is he going to be a doctor if he cant even handle this with a grain of salt. suing would be the last course of action i would take, in my opinion. You'd ultimately get "unofficially" blacklisted.
     
  12. 630670

    630670 Member
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    I don't think a single extra LOR would keep you out of medical school especially if you had the grades and MCAT to be considered for Harvard's medical school.
    You can make the argument that your application may not have been as strong as it could have been, but a lack of strength is much different then weakening your app.

    The only way I think you may have had a case was if all the med schools had listed your file as incomplete due to the fact that you were missing a required LOR, and even that is tentative

    Anyway good luck, and keep us posted on your decision
     
  13. Dr.TobiasFünke

    Physician 7+ Year Member

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    I don’t think you have a case... it's not the medical schools fault your pre-med advisor messed up and didn't include the letter. And, unless you found out around march 2006, I don’t know why they wouldn’t still accept it. I was sending letters to them until the end of February. If you going to sue anyone... its your school. But are you really going to sue them over a misfile??

    It sucks ya, but as 630370 stated, it may no be the only reason you didn’t get into school. Perhaps you attitude and blaming others for what is ultimately YOUR responsibility made admissions committees doubt you ability to be a good doctor.
     
  14. SeventhSon

    SeventhSon SIMMER DOWN
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    that really sucks... i had one letter writer holding me up and so i sent out the rest of my letters, and 2 places e-mailed me telling me i was not complete before.
     
  15. ADeadLois

    ADeadLois Senior Member
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    As others have said, you have no case against the medical schools.

    The best you could hope for from the school that screwed up your LORs is a letter of apology, and possibly a letter to each of the medical schools you reapply to explaining their error.

    Again, you are anyone can't prove that the missing letter had a detriment to your overall application.
     
  16. akaz

    akaz Senior Member
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    A missing letter can get you thrown out of the pile. It has happened and some schools like harvard demand all letters. However, it happened to me too. It sucks. I was ticked, but it isn't worth it to make a fuss. Just roll with it. Apply this year. You will know a bunch more about the process and have all your letters together. This has happened before.
     
  17. Sporky

    Sporky Sporky
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    You situation is indicative of a broken system, which our medical educational system is, but litigation will not solve your problem. And, I agree with a previous poster, that while in America, one can theoretically do as one pleases within the confines of the law, if you initiate a suit against a medical school before you are a medical student, I cannot imagine any school admitting you.

    What does need to happen is for doctors to begin questioning the med school application system and force it to be made right. The problem is, doctors are too busy saving people's lives to care and the schools and amcas know this very well.

    Also, it would be a great irony if, when you completed med school and began your practice, one of your disgruntled patients brought suit against you for an administrative mistake.

    Chalk this up to the school of frustration and when you become a doctor, contact Amcas and/or Harvard and discuss it with them. Perhaps you will be a catalyst in helping to fix a very poorly designed and operated system.

    KBO!!!
     
  18. Pemberley

    Pemberley Senior Member
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    A better idea would be to write respectful letters or make respectful phone calls to the admissions offices asking, as you didn't get interviews, what you can do to make your application stronger.

    Without mentioning any letter.

    Then if they say, "we didn't see an LOR from your research time" you can be happy that you have a better chance this cycle. If they say "your personal statement didn't convey a true passion for medicine and you had almost no volunteer work" or whatever the case may be for you, you will have saved yourself some embarrassment.

    Many, many people get rejected with their entire applications read. Very few single LORs can turn the tide.

    You assume that there's no possible way they could have rejected you if they'd only seen all your letters. That could be seen as arrogant. If I were the dean of admissions, I would have significant concerns about your attitude if you even begin the "my rejection was somebody else's fault" speech.
     
  19. jackieMD2007

    jackieMD2007 ***MVI***
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    Where's Law2Doc?
    I don't see the tort here. What's the cause of action?
    Also, when you sign up for all of these services, aren't there a ton of adhesion clauses?
     
  20. ParvatiP

    ParvatiP Senior Member
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    Yeah, sounds like your pre-med committee was at fault. I guess if this was considered an "extra" LOR, then how would the med schools know to receive it if it hadn't been sent out? Suing med schools is not the answer. I agree with another poster that I don't think your missing LOR kept you out of schools. It probably would have helped your case, but I don't know if it would have been enough to push you over the top to be admitted. If you call the admissions office where you were rejected, they sometimes can tell you ways to improve your application. It seems unlikely they'd say your LORs weren't good enough. I know that's probably not a great consolation, but it's not right to blame the system when they're not really at fault.
     
  21. R.P. McMurphy

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    I think this is your pre-med committee's fault. I am using a composite letter too and never once have I mentioned that I am using a specific letter in my application to any of the schools.....all that they know is they are getting a Penn State composite letter. This is where I am confused about your story.....how are they supposed to know that they are getting a specific research letter?

    Not only is it the job of you pre-med advisors to send all the letters, but it is also their job to write about those individual letters in that final letter, so I highly doubt not having the actualy letter makes or breaks your application, although I agree it hurts.

    I understand your frustration, but I think this is 100% your school's fault and suing will get you absolutely nowhere.
     
  22. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Sue and you'll never get in to med school. Is a year of your life reapplying and how ever many thousands of dollars worth that?

    btw, this situation sounds like it really sucks, but if it's the biggest injustice or hardship you ever come across in your life, you're doing well. Let it make you stronger.
     
  23. KrispyKreme

    KrispyKreme Member
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    I love this country. you can sue anyone you want for whatever reason. maybe you can sue for a fee waiver :smuggrin:
     
  24. SailCrazy

    SailCrazy I gotta have more cowbell
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    Also remember the concept of having to apply for residencies...
     
  25. jack.bauer

    jack.bauer Member
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    Yes, the best solution is not to sue but to make systemic changes later when I am truly in a position of power to do so. Thanks for the advice everyone.

    As for future applicants, make sure you take every precaution to ensure that your application is complete despite what might be stated online. One letter does make a huge difference when you are competing against a lot of qualified applicants.

    As for me, I'm off to fight terrorism and inefficiency.
     
  26. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    I agree with this. Med schools have no obligation to make sure you get all your materials to them. That responsibility falls on you. You "delegated" it to a committee and they failed you. Much like if you used interfolio and they screwed up, they would be holding the bag.
    The problem is that you cannot prove damages unless you can prove that you would otherwise surely have been admitted. Or can demonstrate one school where this missing letter was what cost you admission. Lots of luck. Anyone you sue here will just say, "no harm, no foul", you wouldn't have gotten in anyway. And you would be hard pressed to disprove that.
    And, as everyone else has suggested, if you need to use this process again as a reapplicant, you won't get much help if you sued people. Best to shake it off as bad luck and do more micromanaging of all the details next round.
    Good luck
     
  27. It sucks that [email protected] happens. A friend of mine applied to 6 pharmacy schools via PharmCAS. 4 primary applications never made it to the schools. However, she was accepted into one.
     
  28. DoctorPardi

    DoctorPardi In Memory of Riley Jane
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    Well you could sue this year and probably never get into medical school, or you could suck it up as and count it as a really ****ty situation and reapply.

    Also apply broadly, you said you applied to harvard which you probably would not have gotten into anyway. So reapply this year, apply to a ton of schools and guarentee you do not have to do this a third time.( I realize you probably applied to more schools than Harvard, but I am just saying)
     
  29. etf

    etf
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    i'm about to sue some of these schools for mental distress...anyone wanna make it a class action?
     
  30. Beau Geste

    Beau Geste yah mo b there
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    If my credit card payment is late because the USPS made it late, and I get charged extra fees, can I sue the USPS?

    NO, because there's always something more I could do.

    When it's *my* turn to verify, I'm definitely going to make sure the letters are in my file. Whether I have to pester them enough to actually look in my file for them, or they are nice enough to do it straight out.

    Bottom line is, yeah, it sucks, but it's YOUR responsibility to make sure everything is in your file. This isn't the first time it's happened, and I bet this go-around you will call the schools and have them look in your file to make darn sure it's complete.

    Suck it up.
     
  31. patnich81

    patnich81 Junior Member
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    Sounds like you wouldn't be wise to sue. Try asking your school politely if they'll pay for your application fees this year, since their mistake hurt your chances.
     
  32. doctorFred

    doctorFred intensive carer
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    :thumbdown:

    while i'm all for personal responsibility, you're taking it too far. he made sure that all of his letters of rec. had reached the pre-med committee, and he made sure that the pre-med committee sent out their committee letter on time. that's as much as the average, reasonable applicant should be expected to do. if the committee neglected a particular letter, that's completely out of his control. it's bum luck, but isn't his fault.

    by your statement ("when it's my turn to verify..") i'll take it that you haven't gone through the process yet. between all the long, drawn out stages of applying, multiplied by the number of schools you're applying to and all the middle-men (and women) involved in the process, there are about a million different things that can go wrong, and it's physically impossible to safeguard against every last one. even the people who feel like they've taken every precaution in the book get screwed every once and a while.
     
  33. vtucci

    vtucci Attending in Emergency Medicine
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    This may have been a problem if Jack did not have the required number of LORs without the research letter so he could have gotten dinged based on that.

    However, my advice would be not to sue. You definitely could get blacklisted as a result and at the end of day, it is your responsibility to make sure all the letters arrived at the medical school before there deadlines for each of your secondaries.

    I had a problem when Yale lost my LORs about 4 times in the application process but I knew about it because I was constantly calling to make sure they received everything from everyone. Did it hurt me there? Who knows. I got in plenty of other places.

    You will too if you go at this with the right attitude. just reapply and for heaven's sake, don't use this experience in your PS as one suggested.
     
  34. Beau Geste

    Beau Geste yah mo b there
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    Nope, I haven't applied to med school, but I have applied to several M.S. and Ph.D. programs (M.S. first and when finished with that, then Ph.D. - and accepted to both), so I know what it's like to round up LORs from people and check files. Granted there aren't as many applicants, but I when I got my postcards that my files were complete, I actually took the time to call the schools and have them double check the signatures in the letters to make sure there weren't any duplicates or mistakes. It was also important to check for transcripts as well, because mistakes can and do happen.
     

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