Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Doe v. George Washington University, No. 18-cv-00553 (D.D.C. Dec. 20, 2018)

School type: Private
State: District of Columbia
Federal Circuit: D.C.
Decision primarily favorable to: Student
Stage of litigation: Motion to dismiss
Keywords: Arbitrary & capricious, Breach of contract, Erroneous outcome, Title IX

The court denied the university’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s breach of contract and Title IX claims in a sexual misconduct lawsuit stemming from questions of the accuser’s level of intoxication during a sexual encounter.

Because the court had previously ordered GWU to hold an appeal in Plaintiff’s case, and the appeals board affirmed his suspension, the amended complaint and ruling focus on the appeals process, during which the appeals board received evidence that could have affected the outcome of the case. The court ruled that the appeals panel’s decision may have been arbitrary and capricious:

The Appeals Panel was presented with direct contradictions in the evidence and appears to have strained to overlook such contradictions, leaving no trail of reasoning … to warrant deference, such a decision must provide enough reasoning to avoid being arbitrary and capricious. The bar [Plaintiff] must clear on a motion to dismiss is low. The motion to dismiss will be denied on the breach of contract claim to the extent it relates to the denial of his appeal.

The court also denied GWU’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s Title IX claim. The court found that the combination of outside pressure on GWU (several OCR investigations) and the fact that, in response to the pressure, GWU released data showing that of the 10 sexual misconduct complaints that went before a hearing board, all 10 resulted in punishment, was sufficient to plausibly plead gender bias.

The case subsequently settled.