IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
LIFE UNIVERSITY, INC.
THE COUNCIL ON CHIROPRACTIC EDUCATION, INC.;
THE COUNCIL ON CHIROPRACTIC EDUCATION COMMISSION
ON ACCREDITATION; AND
PAUL D. WALKER, individually and in his official capacity as Executive
Vice President of the Council on Chiropractic Education Defendants,
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
Before the Court is the Motion of Plaintiff Life University, Inc.(“Plaintiff”) for Preliminary Injunction. The Court heard oral Arguments on the motion on February 10, 2003. Prior to that hearing, the parties filed briefs, affidavits and exhibits regarding the issue of preliminary injunctive relief. Having reviewed and considered this record, having heard and considered the oral arguments of counsel and for the reasons stated in open court, this Court finds as follows: There are four findings that the Court must make on a preliminary injunction. One is that the plaintiff has a substantial likelihood of success; the second is that the plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not issued; third, the Court must balance the equities between the plaintiff and the defendant; and the fourth is whether or not it is contrary to the public interest.
As to Plaintiffs irreparable harm, the Court has no difficulty in finding that, absent the temporary injunction, the Plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm, in that Plaintiff will cease operations.
Second, the Court finds that there is no question but that the balance of equities weighs in favor of Plaintiff. While Plaintiff would be destroyed should the injunction not issue, Defendants will not be seriously injured by the issuance of an injunction.
Third, as to Plaintiff’s likelihood of success, the Court finds that Plaintiff has demonstrated that it is substantially likely to succeed on the merits for the following reasons: Although decisions of accrediting agencies have historically been given deference, where, as here, accreditation decisions are made by actors with a financial interest in the outcome,
Little deference should be given. Here, there were admitted conflicting economic financial interests in the decisions that were made. That fact is shown by the recruitment of Life students, after the June 2002 decision, by competitors whose representatives were involved in the decision making on accreditation; an attempt by a competitor whose representative was one of the decisionmakers to buy life University after its accreditation was withdrawn, at a time when the monetary value of Life University had been reduced by the accreditation decision; the fact that persons with competing financial interests to those of Life University made the accreditation decisions on Life University; the fact that the elimination of Life University as a chiropractic college would increase the number of students and money available to those competitors; that an aggressive group of leaders of the eight liberal chiropractic schools, who had only one-third of the chiropractic students, had undertaken a series of corporate manipulations in order to reduce the representation and dominance of the eight conservative chiropractic schools (of which Life University was one), who had approximately two-thirds of all chiropractic students; that these corporate manipulations, which may very well have violated CCE’s corporate charter, were calculated to give dominance to the liberal minority group over the conservative majority group; that the end result has been the disaccreditation of the largest of all the colleges of chiropractic and the turning loose of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of students to be attracted to the other schools. Actions which would violate the antitrust laws if incorporated in an accreditation procedure, per se, indicate a lack of due process.
Fourth, as to whether an injunction would be contrary to the public interest, the Court finds that, if an injunction is not granted, the result will be the destruction of Life University’s College of Chiropractic. The effect of an injunction would be to eliminate automatic ineligibility for state licensure on the basis of lack of CCE accreditation. The Court further finds that the New Jersey State Board of Chiropractic Examiners’ decision to permit licensure of Life University graduates indicates that the danger to the public is not as great as the harm of the destruction of Life University if an injunction does not issue.
Based on the foregoing and as set forth in open Court February 10, 2003, this Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion for Injunctive Relief and hereby ORDERS Defendant CCE to return Plaintiff Life University to the accreditation status it
enjoyed with CCE prior to the June, 2002 decision of CCE.
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