Doe v. Case W. Reserve Uni., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74520 (N.D. Ohio 2019).
07/23/2019John Doe filed suit against Case Western Reserve University for breach of contract and violations of Title IX (erroneous outcome) after he was found responsible for sexual misconduct and suspended for two years. Case Western moved for summary judgment.
Plaintiff asserted that Case Western breached its contract by substantially departing from its own sexual misconduct procedures. Specifically, plaintiff asserted that he was not notified of his right to bring a support person prior to his first meeting with the investigator, that he was not provided with a copy of the sexual misconduct policy, and that he only reviewed the investigation report for twenty minutes prior to the hearing.
The Northern District Court of Ohio held that Case Western is entitled to summary judgment on Doe’s breach of contract claim where Doe’s complaints do not demonstrate non-compliance with the University’s policy. Case Western’s policy is silent regarding notice for support persons, and the investigator discussed the sexual misconduct policy in person with Doe. Additionally, Doe was given the opportunity to review the Report and witness statements two days prior to the hearing but declined. Thus, the court found there was no breach of contract because Case Western reasonably complied with its sexual misconduct policy.
Regarding his Title IX claim, Doe claimed that Case Western was motivated by gender bias when it disciplined him. In support of his Title IX claim, Doe relied on the investigator’s dissertation entitled, “The Dangerous Reality: Sexual Risk Taking Among College Age Women.” A quote from the dissertation included, “the men [depressed females] are frequently engaging in casual sex with are the most confident, which could be seen as them taking advantage of women.”
The court dismissed Doe’s Title IX claim because there was no causal link to demonstrate that the investigator’s dissertation motivated Case Western’s decision to discipline Doe. The investigator utilized identical interview outlines for John Doe and Jane Doe and followed identical interview procedures, including the opportunity to review, edit and sign their respective interview notes. The investigator reviewed the policies with John and Jane, and discussed the accommodations and support services available to both parties. There was no evidence that Case Western’s sexual misconduct policy was discriminatory toward males or that the policy was applied against Doe in a discriminatory way.