Streit v. Students
654 U.Va. 183 (2017)
JUSTICE JANI delivered the opinion of the Court, in an opinion joined by JUSTICE RANZINI and JUSTICE SHMAZZLE. CHIEF JUSTICE VANDERMEULEN filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, joined by JUSTICE MALKOWSKI.
JANI, J., for the Court.
Today the Court decides a matter that has been of a particularly sensitive nature around the halls of the Law School. While tensions have been and remain high, the lack of marches, sit-ins, and other forms of general civil disobedience can be attributed to the fact that the collective student body has been waiting on this decision to be handed down before taking more affirmative steps to force the administration’s hand. As these past months have shown, the recusant law student will stop at nothing to make their grievances known, from taking papers from stands, to marking them with highlighter, to perhaps the most gallant of all actions: pinning them up on bulletin boards. It confounds even the sharpest of minds why the generations before say that our millennial generation lacks the tenacious civic and social pride of former eras.
In an attempt to preserve the fractious peace between the two coteries of colonists of Massie Road, we have consolidated the dozens of appeals that have come to us into a single case, Students v. Streit, et al. The facts of the case are as follows. On December 1, 2017, Assistant Dean for Building Services Greg Streit—a title undoubtedly ranked in the top one hundred most important Deanships granted at the University of Virginia School of Law—sent an email to Dean Sarah Davies of the House of Student Affairs, the Undeterred, Queen of Clay Hall, Governor of Spies Garden, Bringer and Breaker of Keg Taps, and Mother of Despondent Law Students asking her to forward said email to the student population. The pertinent elements of the email reads as follows:
As most of you know, the Law School contracts its dining operations through the University. Aramark is the company that the University uses to provide dining services throughout Grounds. In an effort to provide the Law School community with improved dining operations, the Law School is working with Aramark to explore options that would increase the quality of our dining services.
Currently, Aramark provides a myriad of options in the Sidley Austin Café, including but not limited to the following: deli sandwiches, wraps, pizza, grab-and-go, comfort food, and grilled items. From a business perspective, it is difficult to be a “jack of all trades” when several offerings are not very popular overall. With that being said, Aramark would like to gauge the Law School’s collective interest in replacing the current offerings with a high-quality, Panera-style menu that would be supplied by Great Harvest Bread Company.
The email went on to state a deadline of December 8 for any student to provide input via survey. A proposed menu of offerings that was reasonably believed by the student body to be comprehensive and continuous was attached. The transition from went into effect soon after, and the conversion was completed by the time students arrived back on grounds after winter break.
Broadly, Students state three separate causes of action. The first cause states that appellant Great Harvest Bread Co. has violated §2 of the Antitrust Act by acquiring a monopoly on food service in the Law School. The second cause claims a substantive due process violation, with a §1983 claim for damages tacked on for good measure. The final complaint alleges a breach of contract between the students and the administration. Holding court in her office, Judge Dugas below entered summary judgment for Students on the ground that Great Harvest’s monopoly did indeed violate the pertinent antitrust provisions above.
In reviewing the options of dining available to students, faculty, and administration officials, the lower court erred in determining the market power of Sidley Austin Café. While appellees are correct in contending that the annexation of the Café by Great Harvest Bread Co. ensures that students and faculty are restrained from seeking alternative food options, they fail to consider the “if you want nice things, walk your happy ass to Darden” analysis advanced time and time again by this Court.
Appellees assert that Dean Streit violated students’ constitutional right to hot food. While the lower court was correct in formulating that a grilled cheese sandwich cannot constitute hot food, this Court finds no reason to further examine this claim with regard to damages. School officials are protected by qualified immunity when acting in a reasonable manner. In terms of injunctive relief, we refuse to acknowledge that there is a constitutional right to hot food. Substantive due process only protects those fundamental rights which are “deeply rooted in the school’s history and tradition.” Washington v. Clucksbird (2003). Since the adjoining hallway, and thus Sidley Austin Café, was not constructed until 1998, the students at Virginia Law, for most of its history, were forced to eat the saltine crackers and Oreos they brought with them from home. Therefore, this claim must fail as access to hot food is not a fundamental right for students.
To evaluate the breach of contract claims asserted by Students, we first must determine whether a contract between the students and administration was entered into. This Court has determined that an implied contract was established at the time. We will not go through the analysis of how a contractual relationship was established because we do not have to walk down that road. See Virginia Law Weekly v. Eisenhower (1957) (“We’ve got too much snog in the noggin for this mush. You bull hockeys aren’t owed anything, so put an egg in your shoe and beat it.”) However, the contract must fail on one of two grounds: promissory estoppel or the capacity to contract.
In his email, Dean Streit alludes to a menu of “high-quality” offerings. This phrase was relied upon by students when considering whether or not to relinquish the prior cafeteria food options. This reliance was in a manner that Dean Streit should have reasonably expected, so the promise should be legally enforceable. There exists a general consensus among the community about the degradation in quality and taste of the food, “The chicken salad is the same, just worse in every way” and, “They took away the hot food and gave us shittier sandwiches, because they’re a sandwich company from Montana. Nobody thinks of Montana when they think of good sandwiches.” The claim of promissory estoppel nonetheless must be denied because since when has cafeteria food been “high-quality”? The educated student should know that flipping between national corporations in hopes that one provides “high-quality” cuisine in the cafeteria is a Sisyphean endeavor. Cafeteria food at the Law School cannot ever in its nature be high-quality.
This case must be decided on capacity to contract. The survey forwarded by Dean Davies, praise be to her, reached students on December 1 with the expectation that all considered responses were to be submitted by December 8. This Court has never before seen such an egregious display of opportunism. A person lacks capacity to contract if she is unable to act in a reasonable manner and the other person has reason to know her condition. Restatement of Contracts 2d §12. Asking a struggling law student in the week before exams what they would like to eat the next semester is akin of asking a baby you just stole to pick out drapes. Any response received by the administration should be invalidated and, as such, the contract as a whole ceases to exist.
Finally, this Court would like to asseverate that Assistant Dean of Comestible Settlement Mandy has been executing her duties in a laudable manner, her presence at this school is cherished; please don’t allow Darden to steal you away. Also, shouts out to my little sibs, Malvi and Shahil Jani, who are celebrating their birthdays this month.
The case is remanded to the lower court, with instructions to vacate the prior ruling of summary judgment and enter judgment on behalf of the plaintiffs on contractual grounds.
It is so ordered.
VANDERMEULEN, C.J., concurring in the judgment.
With my Brother Jani’s mind so clearly deteriorating, I feel compelled to join his opinion to ease his departure from the Court. Like Wild Bill Douglas before him, Justice Jani has clearly entered the throes of madness. Capacity to contract? Promissory estoppel? Professor Kordana never mentioned either of these terms. 1 Nevertheless, I agree that Justice Jani has stumbled upon the correct result, if not for the reasons stated. I would affirm the lower court’s grant of summary judgment to Students in accordance with this Court’s Mahoney doctrine, which holds that complaints by students are presumptively reasonable absent “clear and convincing evidence that the complaint is too whiny to be considered.” See e.g., SBA v. Davies, 38 U. Va. 189 (2017) (“Seriously? You’re still mad about the f*cking keg?”). Here, appellants have failed to provide any evidence, much less of the clear and convincing variety, that this is mere whining,2 despite ample opportunity to do so in their response to appellees’ complaint. As such, Students must emerge victorious.
 There exists within the record a law school community conspiracy theory that the survey extended to the student population was done only out of appeasement and that the proposed changes had been finalized ex ante of the received email. As this suggested theory was unanimously refuted by the subordinate courts, the Court of Petty Appeals will not review this question of fact de novo.
 See, e.g., Darden Bros v. Section C, 135 U.Va. 187 (2016) ("If the Darden bros annoy you so much, go use their library, there's never anyone there") (opinion of HADEN, C.J.)
 See Vampires of Virginia Law Library v. Fitchett, 773 U.Va. 980 (2017) (“Given the fact that some law students look like they gave up trick-or-treating only within the past couple of years, the Virginia Law Library and its staff are protected by qualified immunity for letting undergraduate students sneak past the front desk. Per Harlow v. Fitzgerald it must be obvious to all reasonable officials that what the main grounds trespassers were doing violated petty law. As the Court has witnessed bare-faced failure that is No Shave November at this school, it would be unacceptable to think that any reasonable librarian would be able to distinguish between the two classes of students based on appearance alone (keep on trying, Mr. Lucy, the Court is sure that beard will fill in soon). Let Assistant Dean of Literacy Taylor Fitchett retire in peace.”)
 See also In re Dean Dugas, 663 U.Va. 121 (2016) (“But developments in the add/drop, which sometimes are speeded up, cannot be halted any more than the fleeting happiness of a snow day could be halted. The period takes one by the throat and forces a decision.”)
 Or whatever the population of primarily white men ate.
 Law students have always had fewer rights than prisoners who are guaranteed "three hots and a cot."
 Again, this Court is very dubious of the claim that the wishes of students mean anything to school administrators.
 See Brief for Tyre as Amici Curiae.
 See Brief for Lawhoos for What the Hell? Montana?? Amicus Curiae.
 It’s possible he mentioned them and I was distracted by . . . well I couldn’t even begin to list the things I was distracted by.
 See Appellants’ brief at 4 (“We do not dignify this petition with a response.”)