Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Doe v. Louisiana State University, No. 3:20-cv-00379 (July 21, 2020)

School type: Public
State: Louisiana
Federal Circuit: Fifth
Decision primarily favorable to: University
Stage of litigation: Motion for TRO/preliminary injunction
Keywords: Due process, Notice, Selective enforcement, Single investigator, Title IX

The court denied Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, which asked the court to order LSU to provide Plaintiff with a hearing before a University Hearing Panel and to lift the sanctions against him pending the outcome of that hearing.

Plaintiff was found responsible for sexual misconduct by a single investigator, and appealed the decision to the Title IX coordinator, who affirmed the finding of responsibility. He was suspended for one year. Under LSU policy, he was entitled to a review of the decision by a University Hearing Panel, but he was required to request that within three days, which he did not do. The university thus denied his request.

Plaintiff brought suit against LSU alleging Title IX violations, constitutional due process violations, and breach of contract. With respect to Plaintiff’s Title IX claim, the court held that he had not pointed to facts suggesting that gender was a motivating factor behind LSU’s decision to discipline him. Plaintiff’s argument had focused on the fact that LSU was “in frequent contact with Jane Roe to specifically explain the disciplinary policies and procedures to her,” but was not in similar contact with him, leading him to misunderstand the policies and miss the deadline to request a UHP hearing. The court found, however, that Plaintiff had not pointed to any facts, “other than his assertion that University officials met with her on several occasions,” to support his claim of gender bias.

The court also held that Plaintiff was given sufficient notice and an opportunity to be heard, and that he had not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of his due process claim, finding that “The evidence presented thus far suggests that the notice LSU provided to Plaintiff, informing him of the allegations and providing him the opportunity to seek UHP review, was clear and unambiguous.”

The court also held that Plaintiff would not suffer irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction, because “the purpose of a preliminary injunction is to preserve the status quo,” and the status quo in this case is that the Plaintiff was already suspended.