Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Does v. Regents of the University of Minnesota, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105651 (D. Minn. June 25, 2019)

School type: Public
State: Minnesota
Federal Circuit: Eighth
Decision primarily favorable to: University
Stage of litigation: Motion to dismiss
Keywords: Due process, Title IX

University’s motion to dismiss granted.

This case involved eleven members of the football team who allegedly engaged in non-consensual sexual contact with a complainant, Jane Doe, in September 2016.

The court dismissed Plaintiffs’ Title IX claims, holding that their allegations were largely conclusory and that they had not offered any evidence suggesting gender bias or any evidence of a similarly situated female having been treated differently.

The court also dismissed Plaintiffs’ Title VI racial discrimination claims. Plaintiffs pointed to white men who had allegedly been treated differently when accused of sexual misconduct/assault, but the court did not consider these to be relevant comparators because they were not “similarly situated in all relevant respects.”

With regard to the due process claims, the litigants had not exhausted their state remedies: in Minnesota, someone seeking to challenge a quasi-judicial action can file for a writ of certiorari with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

With regard to the defamation claim against the university president:

“[UM President] Kaler’s statements came after a public outcry and the threatened boycott of an upcoming football bowl game. Based on these facts, the Court holds that Kaler was commenting as a senior university official about a matter of significant public concern. Accordingly, absolute privilege bars Plaintiffs’ defamation claim against Kaler and Count Five is dismissed. Even if the statements were not privileged, the Court concludes that they are nonactionable opinion or true.”