K.T. Plaintiff- Appellant
Culver-Stockton College; A.B.; Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity; Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Defendants - Appellees Women's and Children's Advocacy Project at New England Law Boston Amicus Curiae
Submitted: April 5, 2017
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri - St. Louis
SMITH, Chief Judge, ARNOLD and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.
SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.
brought a Title IX student-on-student harassment claim
against Culver-Stockton College after she was allegedly
sexually assaulted by a Culver-Stockton student on campus.
The district court dismissed her complaint for failure to
state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
K.T., a junior in high school, was invited by Culver-Stockton
College to visit campus as a potential recruit to the
women's soccer team. While there, K.T. went to a party at
an on-campus fraternity house, where she says she was served
alcohol before being physically and sexually assaulted by a
fraternity member. The alleged assailant was a student of
Culver-Stockton College. According to K.T., the incident was
reported to College authorities the same weekend of the
party, but the College did nothing other than cancel a
scheduled conference with K.T. and her parents.
sued the College in federal court seeking money damages under
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The claim was
couched in terms of student-on-student harassment (or peer
harassment), a theory first articulated by the United States
Supreme Court in Davis ex rel. LaShonda D. v. Monroe
County Board of Education, 526 U.S. 629 (1999).
Davis held that a federally funded institution may
be liable for damages in a private Title IX action if its
deliberate indifference to known acts of peer harassment
denied the victim access to educational opportunities
provided by the institution. Id. at 650. K.T.'s
complaint stated that the College acted with deliberate
indifference toward sexual harassment on its campus by
failing to (1) take reasonable preventative measures such as
supervising K.T. during her visit, and (2) investigate and
provide treatment for K.T. once the College received reports
of the alleged incident.
College moved to dismiss the Title IX claim under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that K.T. failed to
state a claim because she was not a Culver-Stockton student
when the alleged assault occurred. The College averred that
the student-on-student harassment doctrine, as its name
suggests, applies only in cases where a student sues her own
school over harassment by a fellow student. In support, the
College quoted language from Davis that a funding
recipient is not liable under Title IX "unless its
deliberate indifference subject[s] its students to
harassment." Id. at 644-45 (alteration in
original) (emphasis added) (internal quotation marks
omitted). The College further asserted that no federal court
has extended Davis's holding to claims by
district court agreed with Culver-Stockton. In an order
dismissing the Title IX claim, the court first concluded that
as a non-student K.T. could not bring a Title IX claim
against the College. Even if K.T. could bring such a claim,
the district court continued, she failed to plausibly allege
that (1) an appropriate person at the College had actual
knowledge of previous incidents of similar harassment so as
to alert it to a substantial risk of further abuse, and (2)
the College's response to K.T.'s allegations was
deliberately indifferent and caused her to undergo
harassment, made her vulnerable to it, or subjected her to
further discrimination. The court determined that K.T.
therefore failed to state a plausible claim under Title
parties dispute whether K.T.'s status as a non-student
precludes her from asserting a Title IX harassment claim.
Assuming arguendo that it does not, we find no merit in
K.T.'s appeal because her complaint failed to state a
plausible claim to survive dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6).
Accordingly, we affirm.
Standard of Review
review the district court's grant of a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion to dismiss de novo. Cox v. Mortg. Elec.
Registration Sys., Inc., 685 F.3d 663, 668 (8th Cir.
2012). To prevail, K.T. must allege more than
"[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere conclusory statements."
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The
complaint must allege sufficient facts that, taken as true,
"'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.'" Id. (quoting Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is
facially plausible when its factual content "allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged." Id.
"We make this determination by ...