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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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Non-precedential Opinion affirming the district court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of Defendant-Appellees.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.