New Cases and Developments

NACUA's Legal Resources staff summarizes current higher education cases and developments and provides the full text of selected cases to members. New cases and developments are archived here for up to 12 months.  Cases provided by Fastcase, Inc.

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Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX; Students; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Jane Doe v. University of North Texas Board of Regents (E.D. Tex. June 2, 2017)

Memorandum Opinion and Order denying Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. A female student at the University of North Texas (UNT) reported that she was sexually assaulted by a former adjunct professor and current employee at the UNT library. Though the University reassigned the employee and forbid him from entering certain areas of campus, Plaintiff stopped attending classes regularly and confined herself to her apartment out of fear of running into the employee. Plaintiff further claimed that she was not informed of the remedial actions the University had taken and that its investigation exceeded the 45-day threshold imposed by University policy. She ultimately filed a Title IX suit against UNT and its President. Construing Plaintiff’s complaint as asserting deliberate indifference to sexual harassment, the court concluded that genuine issues of fact existed as to the University’s response to Plaintiff’s report and allowed the case to proceed. 

Retaliation; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX

Tackett v. University of Kansas (D. Kansas, Feb. 10, 2017)

Memorandum and Order from the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, granting-in-part and denying-in-part Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.  In the Fall of 2014, plaintiff was sexually assaulted by a member of the University of Kansas (KU) football team.  She reported the incident the following October, after she learned that a friend had also been sexually assaulted by the same individual.  Plaintiff alleged that prior to the assault, KU created a hostile environment conducive to a heightened risk of sexual assault.  Plaintiff also alleged that KU exhibited deliberate indifference towards her and retaliated against her after she brought the assault allegations to KU’s attention.  The Court partially dismissed plaintiff’s hostile environment claim, concluding that plaintiff failed to plead facts that would impute liability to KU for its purported knowledge of heightened risk of sexual assault.   Without speculating about the potential merits of plaintiff’s remaining allegations, the Court allowed plaintiff’s deliberate indifference and retaliation claims to proceed.

Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence

Resolution Agreement with Elmira College Regarding Complaints of Title IX Violations (Dec. 20, 2016)

Resolution Agreement published by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) based on its investigations of complaints that Elmira College failed to promptly and equitably respond to complaints of sexual misconduct. OCR found that while the College’s response to the student who filed the OCR complaint was equitable, the College took an excessive amount of time complete its investigation and deliver an outcome. Moreover, in fifteen of the sixteen other incidents reviewed during the course of OCR’s broader investigation, OCR found that the College “failed to provide prompt and equitable investigations and took insufficient measures to assess and address the impact of harassment and possible hostile environments." As part of the Agreement, the College has committed to training its Title IX coordinator and other staff members, in addition to reviewing its own, more recent investigations.  

Constitutional Issues; Due Process; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity; Sex Discrimination; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX

John Doe I and John Doe II v. Cummins (6th Cir. Dec. 6, 2016)

Following an investigation and a hearing, two male students at the University of Cincinnati were independently found responsible for sexual misconduct. They filed suit against the University and several institutional administrators for alleged due process violations based on biased investigations, improper admission of hearsay evidence, failure to allow cross-examination of adverse witnesses, and denying effective assistance of counsel, among other procedural deficiencies. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal for failure to state a claim. While the weight of the students’ private interests was substantial, given the serious nature of sexual offenses, both students received adequate notice of the charges, the supposed defects in their initial hearings were cured on appeal, and they both had meaningful opportunities to be heard. Appellants also failed to state a viable Title IX claim with respect to the disciplinary process. At most, the alleged deficiencies indicated that the disciplinary system was biased in favor of alleged victims, which does not equate to gender discrimination.

Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity; Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Race and National Origin Discrimination

Collick v. William Paterson University (D.N.J. Nov. 17, 2016)

Plaintiffs, two male students at William Paterson University, were arrested and later expelled for engaging in sexual misconduct with a female student. In their Complaint, Plaintiffs alleged that the purported female victim’s allegations “were accepted as true without any investigation being performed and without the development of any facts or exculpatory evidence,” and that Plaintiffs “were not given the opportunity to respond or explain themselves, did not receive proper notice of the specific charges, were not permitted to confront or cross-examine their accuser, were not given a list of witnesses against them, and more generally were not afforded a thorough and impartial investigation.” The Court held that, although the Complaint alleged violations of Plaintiffs' due process rights and gender discrimination sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss, it failed to offer evidence to support allegations of racial discrimination or violations of equal protection.

Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Retaliation; Gender Identity & Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Settlement Agreement between the University of Colorado and Kimberly Parker

Settlement Agreement reached between the University of Colorado and former employee Kimberly Parker. Following the University's decision to terminate Parker's employment, she sued the University claiming she was terminated in retaliation for filing a sexual harassment complaint against a University Professor. Under the settlement agreement, the University admits no liability, will pay Parker $80,000 and costs related to mediation, and will assist Parker in finding a job.