Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Doe v. Columbia College Chicago, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 24053 (7th Cir. Aug. 13, 2019)

School type: Private
State: Illinois
Federal Circuit: Seventh
Decision primarily favorable to: University
Stage of litigation: Motion to dismiss
Keywords: Arbitrary & capricious, Biased statements, Breach of contract, Title IX

The court upheld the lower court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s Title IX and breach of contract claims.

A female Columbia College student, Jane Roe, accused Plaintiff of sexual misconduct following a sexual encounter that she said was nonconsensual. Following his suspension from the college, Plaintiff filed suit alleging Title IX sex discrimination as well as breach of contract.

In arguing that the college had demonstrated a bias towards male students accused of sexual misconduct, Plaintiff pointed to “Columbia sanctioned social media posts” that included statements like “Teach boys that they are not entitled to women’s bodies” and “Misogyny kills: the sexual entitlement that many men have and the ways in which they objectify women are behind the high rates of sexual violence, abuse, and harassment that women experience.” The court found these allegations too generalized, however, and dismissed Plaintiff’s discrimination claim on the grounds that he “fails to allege particularized facts that could lead to a reasonable inference that Columbia denied him an educational benefit because of his sex.”

Plaintiff also alleged that he was the victim of harassment in violation of Title IX because of verbal and physical conduct directed towards him by Jane Roe and her friends. Again, however, the court held that this was not gender bias: Plaintiff “alleges no facts that would cause us to plausibly infer he was harassed because he is a man, rather than because his harassers believed that he raped their friend.”

The court also dismissed Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim. Although the relationship between a private university and its students is contractual in nature under Illinois law, “a student’s breach of contract claim must involve decisions that were arbitrary, capricious, or made in bad faith.” Finding that was not the case here, the court dismissed the claim.