Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Doe v. Miami University, 882 F.3d 579 (6th Cir. 2018)

School type: Public
State: Ohio
Federal Circuit: Sixth
Decision primarily favorable to: Student
Stage of litigation: Motion to dismiss
Keywords: Due process, Erroneous outcome, Title IX

University’s motion to dismiss granted in part and denied in part.

Two students had engaged in several consensual “physical encounters.” Plaintiff’s accuser, Jane Roe, alleged that during one encounter, she stopped consenting and Plaintiff continued with the sexual activity after the withdrawal of consent. Plaintiff claims that he was heavily intoxicated during this encounter and has no memory of what happened. The university investigated Jane’s sexual misconduct complaint and found Plaintiff responsible for violation of the school’s sexual assault policy. He then brought several claims against the university, including Title IX, equal protection, and due process claims.

The court held that Plaintiff had not sufficiently plead his Title IX claims under a “deliberate indifference” or “hostile environment” theory, stating: (1) “[Plaintiff did] not allege facts that support a reasonable inference that his educational experience was ‘permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult[]’”; and (2) “[Plaintiff’s deliberate indifference] argument, . . . fails because the alleged gender discrimination is not tethered to a claim of sexual harassment.”

However, the court allowed Plaintiff’s Title IX “erroneous outcome” claim to survive, finding that he “has pleaded sufficient facts to cast ‘some articulable doubt on the accuracy’ on the outcome of his disciplinary hearing[,]” the first necessary element to prove an erroneous outcome claim. Additionally, the court found that Plaintiff “allege[d] facts showing a potential pattern of gender-based decision-making that ‘raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal’ circumstantial evidence of gender discrimination.” The court reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss this count.

The court dismissed Plaintiff’s constitutional due process claims, finding that he had offered “no argument for why [the court] should recognize an independent property interest in pursuing a post-secondary education continuously, free from a suspension of less than four months.”

The court also rejected the argument that the university had violated Plaintiff’s due process rights through actions that “shock the conscience.” The court held the university’s actions did not shock the conscience because “the defendants’ imposition of sanctions on [him] is rationally related to Miami University’s legitimate interest in investigating alleged violations of its student code of conduct and disciplining those found responsible.”