Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Doe v. Regents of the University of California, No. 2:19-cv-10385 (C.D. Cal. July 14, 2020)

School type: Public
State: California
Federal Circuit: Ninth
Decision primarily favorable to: University
Stage of litigation: Motion to dismiss
Keywords: Biased statements, Erroneous outcome, Selective enforcement, Title IX

The court granted UCLA’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s Title IX sex discrimination claims.

Plaintiff, a graduate student, was briefly engaged to Jane Roe, a fellow graduate student who at one point was his teaching assistant. After the breakup, an incident occurred in February 2017 about which the parties’ accounts differ. Before they were set to meet in person, Plaintiff apparently learned that Roe withdrew all of the money from their joint bank account. Plaintiff claims that when Roe arrived at his house for their scheduled meeting, he refused to let her in, and that she blocked the doorway when he tried to leave to go teach his class. He claims she followed him to class and also tried to prevent him from entering his classroom. Roe called the police about the same incident and Plaintiff was arrested for domestic battery; she later also filed a Title IX complaint against him. After an investigation, Plaintiff was suspended.

His complaint alleged Title IX violations under both the “erroneous outcome” and “selective enforcement” theories. To make out a claim under the erroneous outcome theory, a Plaintiff must plead facts casting doubt on the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding as well as facts tying that allegedly erroneous outcome to gender bias.

Plaintiff’s allegations of bias included allegations of general pressure from the Department of Education, allegations of a biased atmosphere on campus (such as presentations on “toxic masculinity”), and allegations of “specific instances of bias in his case.” In particular, he alleged that UCLA’s Respondent Coordinator, Jason Zeck, told him that “no female has ever fabricated allegations against an ex-boyfriend in a Title IX setting.”

The court dismissed Plaintiff’s erroneous outcome claim. The court largely glossed over Plaintiff’s concerns about the tenor of campus events, stating simply that he had not connected these events to his gender. The court also found that the Respondent Coordinator’s statement was immaterial because he was not a decisionmaker in Plaintiff’s case.

The court also dismissed Plaintiff’s selective enforcement claim, finding his allegations about the “disproportionate gender balance in Title IX enforcement” unavailing:

Without allegations ‘that any female University students have been accused of comparable misconduct’ and were disciplined unequally, Plaintiff fails to allege his selective enforcement claim.