Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Doe v. Wright State University, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136225 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 24, 2017)

School type: Public
State: Ohio
Federal Circuit: Sixth
Decision primarily favorable to: University
Stage of litigation: Motion to dismiss
Keywords: Cross-examination, Due process

The court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss.

Plaintiff was a student-athlete at Wright State University (WSU) in 2016 when his teammates G.E. and T.S. accused him and other members of the team of sexual assault. During the school’s hearings regarding the misconduct, Plaintiff alleges that witnesses were not present to be cross-examined for his hearing, when they were for others’ hearings. Plaintiff was found to have violated WSU’s student conduct code and was subsequently expelled.

After the denial of his appeal, Plaintiff brought suit against WSU and several school administrators, claiming violation of his due process rights under the United States and Ohio Constitutions.

Plaintiff’s Fifth Amendment claim against the individual defendants failed because the Constitution only applies to state actors and its officials. On his Fourteenth Amendment and Ohio constitutional claims, the court held that Plaintiff’s claims against school officials in their individual capacities must be dismissed, since his factual allegations did not meet the minimum pleading standard.

Plaintiff’s claim against the University also failed. Regarding his allegation that WSU prohibited him from cross-examining witnesses, the court noted as a preliminary matter that failure to allow cross-examination in expulsion proceedings does not necessarily constitute a due process violation. Further, Plaintiff failed to show that their testimony would be adverse to him or that the hearing board considered their testimony in reaching its decision. Plaintiff’s other bases for a due process claim (that he was discouraged from bringing in exculpatory witnesses and prohibited from viewing G.E. and T.S.’s impact statements) were not sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.