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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Campus Police & Relationships with Local Law Enforcement; Campus Police, Safety & Crisis Management

Rankin v. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, et al. (11th Cir. April 26, 2018)

Unpublished Per Curiam Opinion affirming Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, a Georgia State Patrol corporal who attended a Georgia State University (GSU) football game as an off-duty officer, alleged under section 1983 that his arrest by GSU Public Safety Officers for engaging in a physical altercation with a drunk tailgater amounted to false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. Plaintiff further claimed that the GSU Chief of Police was liable for the officers’ conduct. Concluding that the responding officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment, the court determined that Plaintiff’s arrest was supported by probable cause, reasoning that a reasonable officer viewing the situation from the perspective of the responding officers “would have observed two men in plain clothes fighting on the ground at a crowded tailgate.” Plaintiff’s malicious prosecution claim was similarly dismissed because his arrest warrant was issued with probable cause. The court found Plaintiff’s supervisory liability claim insufficient because his allegations were conclusory and did not allege a causal connection between the actions of the GSU Chief of Police and Plaintiff’s alleged constitutional deprivations.

Campus Police & Relationships with Local Law Enforcement; Campus Police, Safety & Crisis Management

Selby v. Bd. of Trs. Of Moraine Valley Cmt. College, et al. (N.D. Ill. Feb 20, 2018)

Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Defendant’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Plaintiff, who enrolled and attended Moraine Valley Community College (MVCC) for only one semester, alleged under section 1983 and state law that Defendants used excessive force, falsely imprisoned and arrested him, and  maliciously prosecuted him in connection to his removal from a campus workshop by two MVCC police officers. Plaintiff arrived late to the workshop, but stayed because he was required to attend in order to reenroll at MVCC. MVCC officers were dispatched and upon arriving, warned Plaintiff that he would be arrested for criminal trespass if he did not leave the room. Upon his refusal to do so, Plaintiff was arrested and charged with criminal trespass to property, disorderly conduct, and resisting a peace officer. The court dismissed Plaintiff’s false imprisonment and false arrest claims both under section 1983 and state law because the MVCC officers acted with probable cause. The court also dismissed Plaintiff’s false arrest and excessive force claims against the MVCC employee who contacted campus police because he did not take part in the arrest. Last, Plaintiff’s malicious prosecution claim failed because he could not show that termination of the related criminal proceeding was in his favor, since he agreed to perform 80 hours of community service in exchange for the dismissal of his case. 

Retaliation; Faculty & Staff; Campus Police & Relationships with Local Law Enforcement; Campus Police, Safety & Crisis Management

Hackbarth v. University of Texas at Dallas (Tex. App. Jan. 4, 2018)

Memorandum Opinion affirming the trial court’s award of summary judgment to the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).  Appellant, a former UTD police officer, alleged that UTD retaliated against him under the Texas Whistleblower Act by terminating his employment after the University of Texas System’s Office of Director of Police (ODOP) concluded that Appellant inadequately responded to a domestic violence incident,  improperly handled public records, and failed to accept responsibility for his actions. The court found that Appellant failed to establish a causal link between his termination and the filing of his whistleblower reports, especially since UTD decisionmakers harbored no negative attitudes toward Appellant and adhered to established policies regarding the termination, and since no evidence suggested that similarly-situated employees were treated differently than Appellant. 

Search & Seizure; Campus Police & Relationships with Local Law Enforcement; Campus Police, Safety & Crisis Management

Mortazavi v. Samford University (N.D. Ala. July 20, 2017)

Memorandum Opinion and Order granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff was practicing the piano at Samford University when an unnamed campus security officer confronted him, ordered him to leave the room “using threatening, derogatory, and offensive language,” seized Plaintiff’s driver's license, and held Plaintiff for approximately thirty minutes while dispatch confirmed Plaintiff’s information. Plaintiff sued Samford and two University officials under a theory of respondeat superior, in addition to asserting conspiracy claims against three University employees. Because Plaintiff failed to identify an official policy by Samford that caused his alleged injuries, the court dismissed his claims against the University. The court also dismissed Plaintiff’s allegation of a conspiracy “to terrorize and frighten” him because a corporate entity cannot conspire with its employees, and its employees cannot conspire among themselves when acting within the scope of their employment.

Campus Police, Safety & Crisis Management; Campus Police & Relationships with Local Law Enforcement; Search & Seizure

Smith v. Susquehanna University (3d Cir. July 13, 2017)

Non-precedential Opinion affirming the district court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellees. Two Public Safety Officers testified that they recovered several drugs and drug paraphernalia from a Susquehanna University student’s dormitory after receiving a report of marijuana odor coming from the room, though the student denied that he possessed any of these items and claimed that the Officers forced their way into his room. During his state criminal prosecution, Plaintiff moved to suppress the evidence as violating the Fourth Amendment, but the judge determined that no state action was involved and that the search was grounded in reasonable belief that illegal activity was being conducted in the room. The student then filed a federal suit against Susquehanna University and the Officers, alleging that the search of his room violated the Fourth Amendment. The Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s conclusion that Plaintiff was precluded from relitigating the question of whether the Officers were state actors in conducting a search of his dormitory room.

Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Students; Title IX; Campus Police & Relationships with Local Law Enforcement; Campus Police, Safety & Crisis Management; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence

Ross v. University of Tulsa (10th Cir. June 20, 2017)

Opinion affirming the district court’s award of summary judgment to the University of Tulsa. A female student reported that she was the victim of sexual misconduct by a male student at the University. She later learned that two student athletes had informed campus-security officers of alleged sexual misconduct by the same student, but the officers dropped the investigation at the request of the alleged victim. Plaintiff sued the University under Title IX, claiming that the University acted with deliberate indifference when it failed to investigate a prior report of sexual misconduct and when it excluded evidence of that report from the student conduct hearing held in response to Plaintiff’s report. The Tenth Circuit determined that both claims failed as a matter of law. Although the Court acknowledged that a reasonable fact-finder could conclude that dropping the previous investigation was clearly unreasonable, it found that the officers did not have the authority to take corrective action in response to the report. Regarding Plaintiff’s second claim, the University excluded prior reports of sexual harassment based on a reasonable application of university policy, and therefore had not acted with deliberate indifference in doing so. 

Disability Discrimination; Campus Police & Relationships with Local Law Enforcement; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity; Campus Police, Safety & Crisis Management

Meehan v. Loyola University of Chicago (N.D. Ill. June 5, 2017)

Opinion and Order granting in part and denying in part Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, worked as a curator for Loyola University of Chicago. During two separate incidents, Defendant police officers escorted Plaintiff off Loyola's campus and then arrested her for criminal trespass and battery. Plaintiff filed suit against Loyola for alleged disability discrimination and creation of a hostile work environment in violation of federal and state law, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). She also brought various state tort law claims against Loyola and the two police officers involved in the incidents, and an independent respondeat superior claim against Loyola. On Motion to Dismiss the IIED, state tort law, and respondeat superior claims, the court found that Plaintiff had sufficiently alleged outrageous conduct to allow that claim to proceed to discovery, rejected Defendants’ one-year statute of limitations defense to Plaintiff’s intrusion of seclusion claim because such claims do not involve publication, and dismissed Plaintiff’s respondeat superior claim as barred by state law.