Student sues university after failing to pass course twice

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DALLAS, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania nursing student is suing Misericordia University officials after she twice failed to pass a course.

Jennifer Burbella of Stroudsburg was enrolled at Misericordia University, but her attorney said because of disabilities including anxiety, depression, and stress, she needed help. Burbella claims school officials failed to abide by federal law, according to WNEP.

According to a federal lawsuit, Burbella asked for extended time to complete exams and communication with a professor during a test. She claims Misericordia officials did not follow through on those things, so she failed to pass the required course twice.

According to the lawsuit, Burbella tried to call her professor during the examination. When that professor did not answer, a witness saw Burbella "...on several occasions during the exam...breaking down and crying." misericordia-lawsuit

Misericordia University officials told WNEP, "We do not comment on matters of litigation," but others are talking about it.

McGrath, Burbella's attorney, specializes in education law, representing students, families, teachers, and administrators.

"She has some disabilities and under section 504 of The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1973, you can make certain accommodations, not only in educational setting, but in the workplace, et cetera,"McGrath said.

McGrath said his client's disabilities should not keep her from being a nurse.

"I think many people suffer from anxiety, depression, and those types of things who are doctors, lawyers, nurses," said McGrath.

According to the lawsuit, Burbella is seeking in excess of $75,000 in damages, but her attorney said what she wants more than anything is a chance to take the exam again.

"She's not looking for the university to ordain that she get this degree, she's looking for a fair opportunity, which the statute provides, to take the exam. If she fails it that's her own problem and she has to deal with it," said McGrath.

Burbella is no longer a student at Misericordia University.


  • Don Collier

    I hope the University wins. I dont want someone who cant handle the low stress environment of a classroom in charge of my children’s, wife’s, or my healthcare. If she cant handle that stress, she has no place in the real high stress environment of professional health care.


    Why would any hospital hire a nurse who can’t perform at the same level as everybody else?


    She suffers disabilities including anxiety, depression, and stress? Anybody hiring her would be opening themselves up for all kinds of liability issues.

  • Michelle Starika Greene

    If she can’t handle the stress of a teat, how does she expect to handle the stress of being a nurse? What a crybaby! My education caused me stress, and I have suffered from depression since I was a child, but I dealt with it, buckled down, and did the work expected of me. I hope the University prevails!

  • Kathleen

    How will she pass her state boards? As a nurse, I had huge anxiety leading up to this exam! It doesn’t leave when nursing school is over.

  • comments4u2c

    It seems to me that the University has it right… this girl is not cut out to be a nurse. I’m not even aware that anxiety and depression is even covered by ADA as a real disability… good grief half the nation would be disabled if that were the case. She needs to pursue a career that will better suit her special requirements.

  • Sharon C

    “McGrath said his client’s disabilities should not keep her from being a nurse.”
    This is precisely what’s wrong with [kids] these days. Totally unable to handle everyday stress and a total lack of personal accountability. I strongly suggest another career choice for this young lady…maybe something low or no stress and definitely something with limited or no contact with any living, breathing thing.

  • winnie

    If she thinks she needs extra time taking an exam you don’t have the extra time when a person life is,at stake

  • Bill

    If she thinks taking a test is stressful I wonder how she could handle a Code with a patient’s life on the line and doctor’s screaming orders at her. Sounds like she needs to find a less stressful career. Nursing is certainly not for her.

  • Cassandra

    this young girl needs to rethink her life course. Nursing is a wonderful field. But it is also highly stressful and provokes much anxiety. I’d hate for her to fight so hard for a career that won’t be a suitable lifetime career after incuring the sweat, blood, and tears, not to mention debt that school brings…

  • William Bahus

    As I understand the article, she took the entire course twice and failed both times. It seems to me that, anxiety or not, she probably isn’t understanding the material well enough and needs to look at a new, lower stress, field of study.

  • JE

    A lot of people have anxiety, stress and feel depressed, but is she clinically diagnosed with all 3? I am assuming probably not which will make this not end well for her.

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