Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Doe v. Trustees of Indiana University, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 222855

School type: Public
State: Indiana
Federal Circuit: Seventh
Decision primarily favorable to: University
Stage of litigation: Motion for TRO/preliminary injunction
Keywords: Due process

The court denied Plaintiff John Doe’s motion for a preliminary injunction asking the court to enjoin his dismissal from the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Plaintiff and his ex-girlfriend had a tumultuous relationship, and after they broke up, she alleged that he was physically violent with her on two occasions in the summer of 2018. Following a hearing, Plaintiff was suspended for one year. The Dean of the medical school ultimately imposed additional conditions on his return, “including that Doe ‘must take one additional year of an administrative leave and would be eligible to return to [IUSM] in April 2021,’ and that ‘[a]ny subsequent violation of academic or personal codes of conduct as defined by the University or the School during [Doe’s] administrative leave may jeopardize [his] ability to return in May 2021 as anticipated.'”

Plaintiff applied for admission to IU’s MBA program during his suspension, and on his application, made several misrepresentations about the conduct process at the medical school, including that the Dean “overturned the erroneous findings” of the hearing panel. When the Dean learned about these misrepresentations, he fully dismissed Plaintiff from the medical school.

A party seeking an injunction in the Seventh Circuit must demonstrate (1) that they will suffer irreparable harm absent and injunction, (2) that traditional legal remedies are inadequate, and (3) that they have some likelihood of success on the merits.

The court first held that Plaintiff would not suffer irreparable harm without an injunction, because he would have “an opportunity to complete his medical education at IUSM should he win on the merits in this case.” The court next examined Plaintiff’s likelihood of success on the merits, and concluded that it did not warrant an injunction. The court did not consider Plaintiff’s Title IX claims at this stage, because his expulsion (rather than his suspension) did not stem from the Title IX process but from the subsequent misrepresentations he made on his business school application. Thus, the court held, “whether Doe was afforded due process during the Title IX process does not affect whether he should be immediately reinstated at IUSM rather than at the conclusion of this case, should he prevail on the merits.”

The only relevant question at this stage, the court held, is “whether Doe provided a strong showing that he has some likelihood to win his due process claim regarding his dismissal for misrepresenting information on his [business school] application.” The court held that Plaintiff had not provided strong evidence that he had either a protected property or liberty interest at stake. The court also held that because his dismissal for misrepresentations on his business school application appeared to be academic, rather than disciplinary, in nature, and that he was given the lower level of process due in academic cases.