United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
H. McKinley Jr., Senior Judge United States District Court
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment [DN 82], Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude
Expert Witness Testimony of David Ware [DN 81], and
Defendant's Motion to Exclude Testimony of
Plaintiff's Expert, Sanjay Sethi [DN 85]. Fully briefed,
these matters are ripe for decision. For the following
reasons, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is
GRANTED, Plaintiff's Motion to Exclude Expert Witness
Testimony is DENIED as moot, and Defendant's Motion to
Exclude Expert Witness Testimony is DENIED as moot.
parties do not dispute the essential facts of this case. John
was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and is a citizen of
Pakistan. [DN 1 ¶ 9]. In 2013, Doe left Pakistan and
came to the United States to pursue an engineering degree.
[Id. ¶ 6]. He applied and was accepted to
Western Kentucky University (“WKU”).
[Id.]. While Doe was a student at WKU, he had all
the necessary documentation for proof of his legal admission
into the U.S. and his enrollment at an American university.
[Id. ¶ 7-8]. Specifically, Doe held a valid F-1
Visa-a nonimmigrant visa for individuals wishing to study in
the U.S. [Id.].
a Muslim, after Doe came to the U.S., he began attending
Christian church services. [DN 84-1 at 51:13-19]. He largely
kept his interest in Christianity to himself. [DN 1 ¶
11]. He eventually confided this to some of his Muslim
friends, who warned him of possible negative consequences
under Islamic law. [Id. ¶ 12]. Doe also
confided in his uncle who later disclosed Doe's secret to
Doe's father, which led to Doe's father withdrawing
his financial support. [Id.]. Doe alleges that
because of his father's decision, he was unable to enroll
in classes for the Spring 2015 semester. [Id.].
early 2015, Doe's father requested that he return to
Saudi Arabia. [DN 84-1 at 55:9- 25]. Doe initially believed
he needed to return home because his father and mother were
separating. [Id.]. Before traveling, Doe sought the
advice of George Dordoni. [DN 1 ¶ 15]. Dordoni is
WKU's Senior International Student and Scholar Advisor.
[DN 82-1 at 4]. He describes himself as an individual with
“almost thirty years of experience in recruitment of
international students, international student immigration
regulations, and international student advising.”
their meeting, Doe asked Dordoni how he could take a leave of
absence from school while still maintaining his status as a
student. [DN 1 ¶ 15]. Doe alleges that Dordoni counseled
him on the process of submitting his Form I-20 to obtain a
Certificate of Eligibility for Non-Immigrant (F-1) Student
status. [Id. ¶ 17]. An I-20 is a document that
certifies an international student is currently enrolled at
an American university and is thus eligible to return to the
U.S. on a student visa. [DN 84-2 at 57:4-9]. A valid Form
I-20 allows a student to travel abroad for five months before
returning. [Id. at 61:1-7]. Doe alleges that, on
this basis, Dordoni assured him he could leave the U.S. to
visit his family abroad and that he would be granted re-entry
to complete his studies at WKU. [DN 1 ¶ 18].
contends that, in reliance upon Dordoni's advice, he left
the U.S. on February 14, 2015, and traveled to Saudi Arabia.
[Id. ¶ 19]. Doe states that he was forcibly
detained by his family for the purpose of re-indoctrinating
him into the teachings of Islam. [Id. ¶ 20].
Doe says he was physically punished when he failed to follow
his father's orders. [Id.]. Eventually, three
months later, Doe feigned resignation of his interest in
Christianity and his father consented to his return to the
U.S. and WKU. [Id. ¶ 21].
early May 2015, while still in Saudi Arabia, Doe emailed
Dordoni to see if he was cleared to return to the U.S.
[Id. ¶ 22]. Dordoni, in response, checked
Doe's status on a program known as iStart. iStart, also
known as Sunapsis, is a software program used by WKU to track
the status of international students enrolled at the
university. [DN 84-2 at 29:20-25]. iStart operates internally
and is designed to interface with the Student and Exchange
Visitor Information System (“SEVIS”), a
government-operated computer program under the control of
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”).
[Id. at 27:9-23; 29:25-30:3]. The government uses
SEVIS to track the status of international students within
the U.S. The compatibility of the iStart program with SEVIS
allows the government and WKU to exchange international
student information and records. [Id.].
February 2015, WKU learned that iStart was not updating
student records in SEVIS because of a glitch in iStart.
[Id. at 66:12-22]. On February 23, 2015, Dordoni
discovered that certain students' records that were input
into iStart had not synced correctly with SEVIS.
[Id. at 70:14-24]. Dordoni states that the glitch
affected 1, 039 student records. [Id. at 73:3-5].
Various WKU officials attempted to correct the glitch and
resolve the issue. [Id. at 67:2-5]. By March 2015,
Dordoni believed the issue was resolved. [Id. at
72:2-9]. Dordoni checked a random selection of student
records and, upon review, confirmed that the records were
correct. [Id. at No. 74:1-5]. Based on the review of
those random “few” student records, Dordoni
concluded that the fix implemented by WKU IT corrected all
affected records. [Id. at 74:3-18].
Dordoni checked Doe's status in iStart in May, the
program reflected that he was still an active student and was
able to re-enter the country. [Id. at 29:20-25].
Dordoni did not check SEVIS to confirm that it had
corresponding information. Based on his check of the iStart
records, Dordoni confirmed to Doe that his I-20 remained
active and that he was set to return to the U.S. [DN 1 ¶
flew back to the U.S. on May 17, 2015, arriving at Dulles
International Airport in Washington, D.C. [Id.
¶ 24]. Upon arrival, Doe was directed to secondary
inspection, where a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol
(“CBP”) officer told him he would not be allowed
in the country because he was no longer registered as a
university student. [Id.]. The information contained
in SEVIS incorrectly characterized Doe's status as
“inactive” and his I-20 was terminated on April
27, 2015 due to “failure to enroll.” [DN 82,
Exhibit J]. Doe alleges that because of his SEVIS status, he
was treated as an illegal immigrant and immediately detained.
[DN 1 ¶ 28]. Thereafter, Dordoni took several steps to
try to remedy Doe's incorrect SEVIS status. [DN 82-1 at
officer handling Doe's case asked whether there was any
other basis upon which he could be allowed into the U.S.,
otherwise, the officer explained, Doe would be deported. [DN
84-1 at 112:6-10]. Fearing deportation, Doe told the officer
about his conversion from Islam to Christianity.
[Id. at 113:4-10]. Doe testified that he told the
officer that he did not want to go back to Saudi Arabia
because of what happened to him while there. [Id. at
114:24-115:2]. Based upon his statements to CBP, Doe was
subjected to the asylum interview process and was detained.
spent the night of May 17, 2015, at the airport.
[Id. at 119:1-6]. Thereafter, he was transferred to
an ICE holding facility in Farmville, Virginia. [Id.
at 119:7-8, 119:21-24]. Doe was paroled from immigration
custody on June 15, 2015. [DN 84-5 at 67]. Doe ultimately