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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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Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence

John Doe v. Colgate University, et. Al. (N.D. N.Y. Oct. 31, 2017)

Memorandum Decision and Order granting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff, a male Colgate University student, sued the University under the theory of erroneous outcome under Title IX, and alleged a number of state law claims, after he was found responsible for three instances of sexual misconduct and was expelled. The court found that Plaintiff’s evidence failed to show that the University’s decision to expel him was motivated by gender bias. Notably, the Court rejected Plaintiff’s argument that the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights’ 2017 Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) proved that college and university sexual misconduct proceedings implemented in response to the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter violated Title IX.  Rather, as stated by the court, the 2017 DCL evidenced only that “OCR can ‘from time to time change its interpretation of [Title IX’],’” not that “Colgate’s compliance with the 2011 DCL, the governing interpretation of Title IX during the period relevant to this action, somehow violated Title IX.”  The court further found that none of Plaintiff’s remaining claims created  genuine issues of material fact. 

11/6/2017
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Title IX; Retaliation; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence

John Doe v. Columbia College Chicago, et al. (N.D. Ill. October 25, 2017)

Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a male student at Columbia College Chicago (CCC), sued CCC under Title IX on the theories of hostile environment harassment, deliberate indifference, erroneous outcome, selective enforcement, and retaliation, after he was found responsible for sexually assaulting Jane Roe, a fellow CCC student. The court found that Plaintiff’s hostile environment and deliberate indifference claims could not proceed because the alleged harassment was not gender-based, but instead was motivated by students’ belief that Plaintiff had sexually assaulted Jane Roe. Further, although the court agreed that Plaintiff sufficiently cast doubt on the accuracy of the disciplinary hearing,  the court found that Plaintiff’s allegations that public and government pressure influenced the outcome of the proceeding, without additional evidence of gender-biased statements from university officials, was not enough from which a factfinder could draw an inference of gender bias, as required to state an action under a theory of erroneous outcome. Finally, the court dismissed Plaintiff’s selective enforcement claim because he did not identify a similarly-situated comparator. Turning to Plaintiff’s retaliation claim, the court concluded that the  Defendant had a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for Plaintiff’s suspension, and Plaintiff could not show a retaliatory motive for CCC’s response to Plaintiff’s complaints of harassment.  Plaintiff also brought tort and contract claims under State law, which the court dismissed in turn. 

10/31/2017
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Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX

Heyman v. The University of Nevada, et al. (D. Nev. October 19, 2017)

Order granting Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a graduate student at the University of Nevada, alleged that that Defendants spread rumors that Plaintiff planned to cheat on an examination, filed a bar complaint in bad faith with the State Bar of Nevada, and mishandled Plaintiff’s allegation that he was subjected to sexual harassment, allegations that, according to Plaintiff, amounted to violations of Title IX under theories of retaliation and deliberate indifference, as well as various violations of state contract and tort laws. In addition to finding that several Defendants were shielded by discretionary and absolute immunity for various counts, the court also found that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege that he suffered any retaliatory acts, nor did Plaintiff allege that he had entered into a contract with any Defendant. The court further found that Plaintiff could not sufficiently plead deliberate indifference because Defendants investigated Plaintiff’s harassment allegation by taking appropriate steps, such as following the University’s policies and procedures and referring the matter to the Office of Student Conduct for an immediate investigation.

10/24/2017
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Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence

Ramos v. Los Rios Community College District, et al. (E.D. Cal. October 17, 2017)

Memorandum and Order denying Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff is a former student of Cosumnes River College (CRC), a college in the Los Rios Community College District. She alleged that CRC was deliberately indifferent to her report that a professor sexually harassed her. The court found that Plaintiff pled sufficient facts to suggest Defendants had actual notice of the incident and further, provided that the case should proceed to a trier of fact to determine whether the eight-day delay between the moment when Defendants learned of the harassment and initiated a response was reasonable.  

10/19/2017
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Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Race and National Origin Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Saravanan v. Drexel University (E.D. Pa. October 10, 2017)

Memorandum granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a South Asian male student of Indian national origin at Drexel University (DU), alleged that DU discriminated against him based on his gender, race and national origin in violation of Title IX, Title VI, and section 1981; breached a contract, and engaged in tortious conduct, after DU expelled him for stalking and sexually harassing a female student. Plaintiff also alleged that DU was deliberately indifferent to an alleged claim that the female student sexually assaulted the Plaintiff.  With respect to Plaintiff’s Title IX claims, the court found that Plaintiff failed to plead facts to support theories of erroneous outcome, selective enforcement, deliberate indifference, or archaic assumptions. The court further found that Plaintiff failed to allege facts suggesting an “inference of discrimination” in support of his Title VI claim, and that his conclusory statement on Plaintiff’s race differing from the complainant’s race was insufficient to support a section 1981 claim. The court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s remaining state law claims.

10/13/2017
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Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence

Ruff, et al. v. Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico, et al.

Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss without prejudice. Plaintiffs are African American male students at the University of New Mexico (UNM) who alleged UNM violated Title IX under a theory of erroneous outcome when the UNM Police Department  pursued criminal complaints against Plaintiffs, arrested them, and submitted a report to the District Attorney’s Office following allegations of sexual misconduct. Although the court found, without explanation, that Plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to “cast some articulatable doubt on the accuracy of the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding,” it dismissed the Title IX Erroneous Outcome claim because it failed to identify statements or actions by UNM officials that would suggest a pro-female bias. 

10/6/2017
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Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence

John Doe v. Board of Regents of the University of Michigan (September 29, 2017)

Opinion and Order denying Plaintiff’s Motion to Alter or Amend the Judgment. Plaintiff, a University of Michigan student, was required to withdraw from the University after the Office of Student Conflict Resolution determined he had engaged in nonconsensual sex with an incapacitated student. Plaintiff sued the University for violations of due process, his First Amendment rights, the University’s Title IX obligations, and state law. The court dismissed all of Plaintiff’s claims and by this filing, Plaintiff sought to alter or amend the judgment based on “newly discovered evidence” that questioned the credibility of complainant’s incapacitation and implicated his due process claims. The court found that the “newly discovered evidence” did not entitle Plaintiff to additional procedural process and did not materially alter the University’s finding that the complainant was incapacitated and unable to consent at the time of the incident. 
10/5/2017
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Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence

Doherty v. Emerson College, et al. (D. Mass. September 29, 2017)

Order granting Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff, an Emerson College student, contends that the College and its Title IX investigator, both in his individual and official capacities, exhibited deliberate indifference, breached a duty of care, and negligently and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on Plaintiff in its response to Plaintiff’s sexual assault allegations. Awarding judgment to the Defendant on Plaintiff’s deliberate indifference claim, the court concluded that the College provided adequate training and promptly and seriously responded to Plaintiff’s report of sexual misconduct by commencing an investigation, contacting every identified witness, offering Plaintiff counseling and coursework accommodations, issuing stay-away directives, expelling the respondent, and implementing appropriate procedures in its hearing and appeal. The court also awarded judgment to the Defendant on Plaintiff’s negligence, NIED, and IIED claims because the Plaintiff neither identified a legal duty through which a finding of negligence could be made nor outrageous or extreme conduct necessary to sustain a finding of IIED.

10/2/2017
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