[Brian] Marquis, a 51-year-old paralegal seeking bachelor's degrees in legal studies and sociology, filed a 15-count lawsuit in US District Court in Springfield in January after a teaching assistant graded a political philosophy class on a curve and turned Marquis's A-minus into a C. Marquis contends that the university violated his civil rights and contractual rights and intentionally inflicted "emotional distress." ...Yes, making a federal case out of a bad grade is ridiculous, but I wouldn't be too happy about getting a C in such circumstances, either -- it seems arbitrary and unfair.
... Based on that formula, Marquis figured he scored a 92.5 percent, or an A-minus. But when the Lanesborough resident checked his grade online in early January, he saw a C and e-mailed Cushing to complain.
Cushing wrote back that he graded the students more stringently on the third exam because they had had a full semester to learn how to write for a philosophy class. As a result, Cushing wrote, Marquis got an 84 for the class. But the students' numerical scores struck Cushing as too high, so he graded everyone on a curve before assigning letter grades. Marquis ended up with a C.
On the other hand, the UMass ombudsman says that "faculty have their own grading scales and that one professor might view an 84 as an A-minus, while another might view it as a C," reports the Globe.