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A Woman Is Suing Her University Because She Failed A Class Twice

Jennifer Burbella claims Misericordia University violated federal disability laws by failing to provide adequate accommodations for her depression and anxiety.

Posted on May 14, 2015, at 7:06 p.m. ET

A woman in Pennsylvania is suing a university after she failed a nursing class twice.

In the federal lawsuit filed earlier this month, Jennifer Burbella claims that Misericordia University violated federal disability laws by failing to provide her accommodations during the class and final exam.

Burbella suffers from anxiety and depression, according to the lawsuit.

She is seeking $75,000 in damages, but her attorney, Harry McGrath, says she wants to fulfill her nursing dreams as well.

"She would like the ability to take the course under the proper accommodations and to become a nurse," he told BuzzFeed News.

Burbella pictured with her nursing class before she was informed she wasn't graduating.

According to the lawsuit, Burbella suffered from depression and anxiety before she became a student at the school in 2010.

Burbella signed a waiver in 2013 to allow the doctor to review her academic records with the hopes she could be granted disability accommodations.

In spring 2014, she took a class in which she was required to get a 78% in order to receive a nursing degree. It was one of her final courses before graduation, but she failed it.

The lawsuit claims the grade was due to the fact that Burbella never got disability accommodations.

Burbella then took the class again in May 2014.

The lawsuit states that Burbella was granted disability accommodations midway through this semester, but then she ran into more problems.

According to the lawsuit, Burbella asked her professor, Cristina Tomkins, if she could change the terms of an accommodation that allowed her to take the test in a "distraction-free" environment.

Burbella allegedly was worried the environment provided to her was too far away from the rest of the class. That concerned her because she thought Tomkins wouldn't answer when she called to ask questions about the test, which was another one of her accommodations.

Tomkins denied her request to take the test in the same building as the others, but the lawsuit claims she let another disabled student do so.

Cristina Tompkins.

The lawsuit claims that during the final, Burbella tried to call Tomkins on her cell phone to ask questions but she never answered.

The lawsuit claims the lack of response caused Burbella to begin to break down and cry.

"[It] created an even more stressful environment," the lawsuit states.

Burbella ultimately didn't get a good enough grade, and was unable to graduate. She is no longer a student at the school.

The lawsuit lists the school, Tomkins, and other school officials as defendants.

McGrath said Burbella is seeking a way to retake the test with the accommodations she is legally owed. He added that if Burbella is able to do so, she will accept whatever grade she gets on the test, even if she doesn't pass.

"She would have been given a fair shake and that's all we are looking for," he said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.