Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Mancini v. Rollins College, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113160 (M.D. Fla. July 20, 2017)

School type: Private
State: Florida
Federal Circuit: Eleventh
Decision primarily favorable to: Student
Stage of litigation: Motion to dismiss
Keywords: Breach of contract, Due process, Erroneous outcome, Selective enforcement, State action, Title IX

The court granted in part and denied in part defendant’s motion to dismiss.

Plaintiff was a student at Rollins College along with his accuser (“Accuser”). Accuser kissed Plaintiff but said “she should not ‘do this’ because she has a boyfriend.” Accuser started leaving the dorm room, but “‘returned to the futon, straddled [Plaintiff] and began to kiss him again’ without obtaining his consent.” Accuser then kissed Plaintiff’s roommate. The following day, “Accuser allegedly ‘acknowledged that she was also responsible’ for the Incident.” However, Accuser later reported Plaintiff and his roommate to Rollins College alleging they had sexually assaulted her that night. Rollins College issued a No Contact Order between Plaintiff and Accuser which Accuser breached by attending a party hosted by Plaintiff’s fraternity.

Plaintiff spoke with a Rollins coordinator who allegedly “cursed at [him]” and “demonstrated bias and prejudgement against him.” The college’s “untrained” investigator found Plaintiff responsible for the sexual assault. Plaintiff was suspended from the college, permanently dismissed from his dorm, and was required to undergo sexual harassment training and counseling.

According to Plaintiff, the Investigator: (1) “did not ask him to ‘submit a list of witnesses’”; (2) “did not give [him] ‘the opportunity to submit questions to be asked’ of the Accuser and other witnesses”; (3) “interviewed witnesses chosen solely by the Investigator,” (4) “incorrectly summarized the statements of K.E. and another witness”; (5) “did not give witnesses an opportunity to review or correct the Investigator’s summaries”; (6) “failed to question the Accuser about her alcohol use the night of the Incident”; and (7) “excluded information about the Contact Violation and statements from witnesses that the Accuser was ‘not that drunk,’ ‘not heavily intoxicated,’ ‘coherent,’ and ‘fine.’” Plaintiff sued Rollins claiming a Title IX violation, a Fourteenth Amendment due process violation, breach of contract, and various other state-law claims.

The court concluded that Plaintiff’s Title IX claim could not stand under a selective enforcement theory because he had not identified a “similarly situated” female at Rollins College who had been treated differently than he had. However, the court held he pleaded a sufficient “erroneous outcome” claim, which requires a Plaintiff to plead facts that (1) cast articulable doubt on the outcome of the proceeding and (2) draw a causal connection between the alleged outcome and gender bias. After agreeing that Plaintiff had established articulable doubt, the court identified two of Plaintiff’s allegations that suggested the type of “differential treatment” supporting gender bias: Plaintiff alleged that “the Coordinator discouraged [him] from pursuing [a] Consent Complaint” against Accuser and that a school administrator “repeatedly accused [him] of rape at the Initial meeting . . . and cursed at [him] instead of providing him with impartial guidance and resources . . .” (internal quotations omitted). Although the court concluded that Plaintiff’s other allegations — such as a national bias against males due to the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter — were too conclusory to satisfy his erroneous outcome claim, the allegations regarding hostility and the consent complaint were enough to sustain it.

The court dismissed Plaintiff’s due process claims because he provided no evidence that Rollins, a private university, was acting under color of state law.

Plaintiff’s state-law claims also survived the college’s motion to dismiss. The case subsequently settled.