Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Doe v. California Institute of Technology, No. BS171416 (Cal. Super. Ct. July 9, 2019)

School type: Private
State: California
Federal Circuit: Ninth
Decision primarily favorable to: Student
Stage of litigation: Motion to dismiss
Keywords: Cross-examination

The court granted Plaintiff’s petition for a writ of mandate directing Cal Tech to set aside its decision that he was responsible for sexual misconduct.

Because Cal Tech’s determination of responsibility turned on credibility, the university was required to provide “an opportunity for the Committee to assess [Plaintiff’s accuser] Jane’s credibility by her appearing at the hearing in person or by videoconference or similar technology, and by the Committee’s asking her appropriate questions proposed by [Plaintiff] John or the Committee itself. That opportunity did not exist here.”

Because Plaintiff did not appeal, Cal Tech argued that he had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies, but the court rejected that argument because the rule requiring exhaustion does not apply when the administrative remedy is inadequate. In this case, because Cal Tech’s appeals process would not have given plaintiff any way to “challenge the fundamental fairness of the Policy to adjudicate complaints of sexual violence,” it was inadequate.