Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Jia v. University of Miami, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23587 (S.D. Fl. Feb. 12, 2019)

School type: Private
State: Ohio
Federal Circuit: Sixth
Decision primarily favorable to: Student
Stage of litigation: Motion to dismiss
Keywords: Biased statements, Breach of contract, Title IX

The university’s motion to dismiss was granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff and a female student at the university had been engaged in a consensual sexual relationship for some time, but Plaintiff no longer wanted to pursue the relationship. The day after Plaintiff posted on Facebook about a party he was hosting to which the female student was not invited, she filed a complaint with the university alleging that he had sexually assaulted her a week prior. Plaintiff was suspended for a semester. Upon his return, the female student — along with a professor — sought Plaintiff’s expulsion, alleging (among other things) that she had suffered serious back injuries in the incident. Plaintiff’s accuser obtained a TRO that prevented him from setting foot on campus, even though he was no longer under any university discipline. This, plus his accuser and the professor making numerous statements to the press including about new allegations, prompted Plaintiff to file a harassment complaint with the university, which ultimately determined that the female student’s new allegations were unfounded.

The court dismissed Plaintiff’s breach of contract claim against the university, because he did not specify which provisions of the Student Handbook the university allegedly failed to comply with.

The court allowed Plaintiff’s Title IX “erroneous outcome” claim to proceed, finding that Plaintiff had sufficiently alleged a causal connection between the outcome of his case and gender bias (both because of national pressure and because of specific statements by administrators) to survive at this stage of litigation.

The court also allowed Plaintiff’s defamation claim against the university, his accuser, and the professor to survive, to the extent it was partially based on non-time-barred statements, but dismissed his claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress as duplicative of the defamation claim, because Florida law “prohibits defamation claims from being re-cast as additional, separate torts, e.g., intentional infliction of emotional distress, if all of the claims arise from the same defamatory publication.”