Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Doe v. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, No. 1:19-cv-00719 (N.D.N.Y. Aug. 21, 2019)

School type: Private
State: New York
Federal Circuit: Second
Decision primarily favorable to: University
Stage of litigation: Motion for TRO/preliminary injunction
Keywords:

Plaintiff’s motion to proceed under a pseudonym is granted, but his motion for a preliminary injunction is denied. Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s breach of contract and Title IX claims against the individual defendants is granted.

The court looked at the Second Circuit’s list of factors to consider in deciding whether to allow a Plaintiff to proceed anonymously and concluded that on balance, the Plaintiff’s interest in proceeding anonymously outweighed the interest in disclosure. While the public does have a “strong interest” in having access to Plaintiff’s identity, it is outweighed by the sensitive nature of the lawsuit and by the risk of retaliation, which already forms the basis of many of Plaintiff’s claims.

The court denied Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, noting that it is an “extraordinary and drastic remedy.” First, the court noted that Plaintiff would not suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction. Plaintiff is only a sophomore, so he does not yet have job interviews and the like that would be affected by the notation currently on his transcript — which will be removed if his lawsuit succeeds. Plaintiff also claimed that falling behind by a semester constitutes irreparable harm, but the court disagreed, noting that Plaintiff had opted to take a medical leave from which he would need to apply in order to return, so he would not be able to return automatically even if the preliminary injunction were granted.

The court also granted the individual defendants’ motion to dismiss the Title IX and breach of contract claims, noting that these claims lie properly against the university, not individual defendants.