United States District Court, D. Minnesota
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. MAGNUSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss. For the following reasons, the Motion is granted.
October 28, 2016, a female student at the College of St.
Benedict reported to a campus security officer that Plaintiff
John Doe, a student at Defendant St. John's University,
had sexually assaulted her late the previous evening. (Compl.
(Docket No. 1) ¶ 58.) The Dean of Students of St.
John's informed Plaintiff of the charges that day, and
met with Plaintiff to discuss the allegations and the
investigation process. (Id. ¶ 59.) Because the
incident involved an alleged sexual assault, St. John's
policy required the University to engage in a formal
resolution process, including the appointment of an outside
investigator. (Compl. Ex. 2 (College of St. Benedict and St.
John's University Sexual Misconduct Complaint Procedures)
(Docket No. 1-2) at 16
(“Procedures”).)The University chose an attorney
who specializes in higher education law to conduct the
investigation. Plaintiff objected to the appointment,
contending that because the attorney's law firm had
represented the University on a previous Title IX matter, she
would be biased in favor of the University. (Compl. ¶
62.) St. John's denied Plaintiff's request to remove
the attorney, and she proceeded to investigate the complaint.
(Id. ¶ 63.)
University's sexual misconduct procedures require that
the investigator interview the complainant, the respondent,
and any other witnesses the investigator deems relevant.
(Procedures at 17.) Both parties have the opportunity to
suggest witnesses for the investigator to interview, and both
parties are allowed to submit “any and all information
and evidence believed to be relevant to the complaint.”
(Id.) The procedures provide that the investigation
report should issue within 25 days of the complaint's
filing. (Id. at 18.)
weeks after the complaint was filed and in the midst of the
investigation, Plaintiff filed his own complaint. He alleged
that the complainant, known as Jane Doe, engaged in
nonconsensual sexual contact with him on the same evening as
she alleged that he assaulted her. (Compl. ¶¶
69-70.) The investigator also investigated this allegation,
although again, Plaintiff objected to her participation in
investigation report is not included in the documents
attached to the Complaint. But the investigator provided the
report, as well as the entire investigation file, to a
three-person adjudication panel appointed by the University.
(Procedures at 4, 20.) The Procedures give each party the
opportunity to review the complete investigation file and the
report, to make a written response to it, and to submit a
rebuttal to the other party's response. (Id. at
19.) The Procedures, however, do not require an adversarial
hearing, and the adjudication panel did not hold one.
panel reviewed the file and, pursuant to the standard of
review set forth in the Procedures, determined that it was
“more likely than not” that Plaintiff violated
the University's sexual misconduct policy. (Id.
at 21.) In February 2017, the Dean of Students determined
that the appropriate sanction was Plaintiff's suspension
from St. John's until Jane Doe's anticipated
graduation date of May 2019. (Compl. ¶ 75.)
appealed. The Procedures provide for an appeal only for new
or newly discovered evidence or a procedural error.
(Procedures at 24.) The adjudication panel denied
Plaintiff's appeal because he had no new evidence and did
not allege a procedural error. Plaintiff was suspended from
St. John's, and transferred to a different institution.
contends that the Procedures violate Title IX of the
Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.,
because they do not provide sufficient due process to accused
students, and he seeks a declaratory judgment to that effect.
He alleges a claim for “erroneous outcome from a flawed
proceeding” under Title IX, seeking damages for mental
and emotional distress, past and future economic harm, and
other similar damages. (Compl. ¶ 107.) He also raises a
claim for deliberate indifference under Title IX, breach of
contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair
dealing, and negligence. The University asks the Court to
dismiss all of Plaintiff's claims.
evaluating a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court
assumes the facts in the Complaint to be true and construes
all reasonable inferences from those facts in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Morton v. Becker,
793 F.2d 185, 187 (8th Cir. 1986). The Court need not accept
as true wholly conclusory allegations, Hanten v. Sch.
Dist. of Riverview Gardens, 183 F.3d 799, 805 (8th Cir.
1999), or legal conclusions that the plaintiff draws from the
facts pled. Westcott v. City of Omaha, 901 F.2d
1486, 1488 (8th Cir. 1990).
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 545 (2007). Although a complaint
need not contain “detailed factual allegations, ”
it must contain facts with enough specificity “to raise
a right to relief above the speculative level.”
Id. at 555. “Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, ” will not pass muster under
Twombly. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). This
standard “calls for enough fact[s] to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of
[the claim].” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.