Campus Due Process Litigation Tracker

Ritter v. Oklahoma City University, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95813 (W.D. Okla. July 22, 2016)

School type: Private
State: Oklahoma
Federal Circuit: Tenth
Decision primarily favorable to: Student
Stage of litigation: Motion to dismiss
Keywords: Erroneous outcome, Selective enforcement, Title IX

The court denied the university’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s Title IX and breach of contract claims.

Plaintiff was expelled after allegedly violating the university’s sexual misconduct policy. He brought Title IX erroneous outcome and selective enforcement claims as well as a state-law breach of contract claim.

The university argued that Plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed because his allegations were conclusory and were plead simply “upon information and belief.” The court rejected this argument, holding that

This is the type of case for which “upon information and belief” pleading was designed. It is highly unlikely defendant would or possibly could willingly disclose the factual information it criticizes plaintiff for not alleging in his complaint.

The court went on to hold:

Admittedly plaintiff’s allegations of discriminatory intent are sparse. However, considering all the allegations in the amended complaint, including the asserted facts underlying plaintiff’s alleged offense, the alleged manner in which the investigation and disciplinary process were conducted, the allegation that females facing comparable disciplinary charges have been treated more favorably than plaintiff and the assertion that, because of his gender, the sanctions imposed on plaintiff were disproportionate to the severity of the charges levied against him, the court concludes plaintiff has stated a selective enforcement claim.

OCU argues that plaintiff’s erroneous outcome claim fails because he has not alleged sufficient facts to suggest his expulsion was erroneous or due to gender bias. Although also a close question, the court concludes the complaint contains sufficient facts “to cast some articulable doubt on the accuracy of the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding.” The same allegations that demonstrate gender bias for purposes of plaintiff’s selective enforcement claim satisfy that element of his erroneous outcome claim.

The case subsequently settled.