Jennifer Burbella Sues School: Former Nursing Student Blames University For Repeated Failure

Jennifer Burbella is suing her school, as she failed a required course on two occasions. The former nursing student claims Misericordia University is at fault, as her professor failed to accommodate her debilitating anxiety.

The former student was accepted into Misericordia’s nursing program in 2010. Although she suffered from anxiety and depression, Burbella hoped to complete her coursework without special accommodations.

Unfortunately, she found it increasingly difficult to concentrate.

As reported by Citizens Voice, Burbella eventually broken down and sought help at the university’s Counseling and Psychological Service Center. However, she continued her coursework without additional assistance.

Although she admittedly had “some average, but primarily below average grades,” Jennifer Burgella successfully completed and passed her first three years of college. Unfortunately, she ran into serious issues with her Functional Health Patterns of Adults IV class.

At the conclusion of the spring 2014 semester, Burgella failed her final exam. When she decided to retake the same class during the summer semester, she asked for special accommodations.

The school agreed to allow Burgella to take her final exam in a distraction-free environment, and her professor, Christina Tomkins, agreed to be present to answer questions during the exam.

Unfortunately, there was a problem with logistics.

In her lawsuit against the school, Jennifer Burgella said she was scheduled to take the final exam in a different building — away from her classmates. As Tomkins was required to remain with her students during the exam, she could not accompany Burgella to the other building.

As reported by Washington Post, Tomkins offered Burgella her cell phone number so she could answer her questions during the exam. However, Burgella contends her professor refused to answer the calls.

As a result, the former nursing student failed the Functional Health Patterns of Adults IV exam a second time.


Jennifer Burgella said she is suing the school because the school and her professor failed to provide her with reasonable accommodations for her disability.

Through her attorney, Harry McGrath, Burgella filed a civil lawsuit against Misericordia University, President Thomas J. Botzman, Nursing Department Chairwoman Cynthia Mailloux, and Professor Christina Tomkins.

The lawsuit alleges the university and administrators violated the Federal Rehabilitation Act. The act prohibits federally funded universities from discriminating against students with disabilities.

Jennifer Burgella is suing her former school for $75,000. Misericordia University declined to comment about the incident or the subsequent lawsuit.

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