882 F.3d 579 (6th Cir. 2018), 17-3396, Doe v. Miami University

Docket Nº:17-3396
Citation:882 F.3d 579
Opinion Judge:KAREN NELSON MOORE, Circuit Judge
Party Name:John DOE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. MIAMI UNIVERSITY; Steven Elliot; Rose Marie Ward; Alana Van Grundy-Yoder; Jayne Brownell; Susan Vaughn, Defendants-Appellees.
Attorney:Eric John Rosenberg, ROSENBERG & BALL CO. LPA, Granville, Ohio, for Appellant. Evan T. Priestle, TAFT STETTINIUS & HOLLISTER LLP, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Appellees. Eric John Rosenberg, ROSENBERG & BALL CO. LPA, Granville, Ohio, for Appellant. Evan T. Priestle, Doreen Canton, TAFT STETTINIUS & HOLL...
Judge Panel:Before: GUY, MOORE, and ROGERS, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:February 09, 2018
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
SUMMARY

John attended a party, drank six beers, then proceeded to a bar and drank more beer and alcohol. He left the bar in the early morning, sufficiently intoxicated that he cannot remember what happened for the remainder of the night. Based on text messages he later found on his cellphone, John knows that he called Jane. The two had engaged in several prior physical encounters. Jane, who had also... (see full summary)

 
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Page 579

882 F.3d 579 (6th Cir. 2018)

John DOE, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

MIAMI UNIVERSITY; Steven Elliot; Rose Marie Ward; Alana Van Grundy-Yoder; Jayne Brownell; Susan Vaughn, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 17-3396

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

February 9, 2018

Argued November 29, 2017

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio at Cincinnati. No. 1:15-cv-00605— Michael R. Barrett, District Judge.

ARGUED:

Eric John Rosenberg, ROSENBERG & BALL CO. LPA, Granville, Ohio, for Appellant.

Evan T. Priestle, TAFT STETTINIUS & HOLLISTER LLP, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Appellees.

ON BRIEF:

Eric John Rosenberg, ROSENBERG & BALL CO. LPA, Granville, Ohio, for Appellant.

Evan T. Priestle, Doreen Canton, TAFT STETTINIUS & HOLLISTER LLP, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Appellees.

Before: GUY, MOORE, and ROGERS, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

KAREN NELSON MOORE, Circuit Judge

In the fall of 2014, John Doe and Jane Doe1 were students at Miami University, a public university located in Oxford, Ohio. The two students knew each other and had engaged in several consensual " physical encounters." This case arises from an incident between John and Jane on September 14, 2014. Both parties had consumed alcohol, and John states that he was so intoxicated that he cannot remember what occurred. According to Jane’s statement, the two engaged in some consensual sexual acts, but at some point Jane stopped consenting and John continued to engage in then non-consensual sexual acts for some period of time before he stopped. This accusation of sexual misconduct was evaluated by Miami University, and John was found responsible for violating the school’s sexual-assault policy. He was initially suspended for approximately eight months, but this suspension was reduced by the University on appeal to four months. After the University’s appeals process affirmed the original finding of responsibility, John brought suit against Jane, Miami University, and individual University employees who had been part of the disciplinary process. John voluntarily dismissed his claims against Jane after the two parties reached a settlement. The other defendants moved to dismiss John’s six remaining claims under Title IX and § 1983 pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and the district court granted their motion.

On appeal, John argues that the district court erred in granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss. We AFFIRM the district court’s dismissal of John’s Title IX hostile-environment claim, Title IX deliberate-indifference claim, and § 1983 substantive-due-process claim. Furthermore, we AFFIRM in part and REVERSE in part the district court’s dismissal of John’s

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§ 1983 procedural-due-process and equal-protection claims and related finding of qualified immunity. We REVERSE the district court’s holding that John did not sufficiently plead his Title IX erroneous-outcome claim. We REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. BACKGROUND

On the evening of September 13, 2014, John and his roommate attended " a party where John Doe consumed approximately six beers." 2 R. 39 (Am. Compl. ¶ 22) (Page ID #1977). John then proceeded to " a bar and drank at least two more beers and four shots of alcohol before leaving the bar in the early morning hours of September 14, 2014." Id. At this point, John was sufficiently intoxicated that he cannot clearly remember what happened for the remainder of the night. Id. ¶¶ 22, 24 (Page ID #1977, 1978). Based on text messages he later found on his cellphone, John knows that he called Jane and " exchanged text messages with" her after he left the bar. Id. ¶ 23 (Page ID #1978).

John recalls Jane getting into his bed some time before dawn on September 14. Id. ¶ 24 (Page ID #1978). His next memory is when he awoke the morning of September 14. Id. Jane was upset that her cellphone was " ruined." Id. ¶ 25 (Page ID #1978). " Because John Doe believed that he had been the last person to handle Jane Doe’s phone, John Doe offered to buy her a new one." Id. During their trip to the store, Jane told John that " she was uncomfortable that he began to perform oral sex on" her. Id. ¶ 26 (Page ID #1978). John apologized for whatever he may have done, but informed Jane that he could not remember anything about his interactions with her the prior night. Id. " After John Doe purchased a new phone for Jane Doe, she told him that she forgave him and still wanted to be friends." Id.

John attached to his complaint Jane’s written statement about what occurred that night and stated that this is the only information he has about what happened besides his own incomplete recollection. Id. ¶ 6 (Page ID #1975); R. 39-2 (Pl. Ex. 1: Jane Doe Statement) (Page ID #2036-37). In her statement, Jane recalled that on the evening of September 13 she was out with a group of friends. R. 39-2 (Pl. Ex. 1: Jane Doe Statement at 1) (Page ID #2036). As she and her friends walked back home, she ran into John and his roommate, whom Jane had previously dated. Id. Jane described herself as a " little drunk." Id. Jane and one of her friends returned to John and his roommate’s dorm room. Id. Once there, Jane’s friend told her that she was going to sleep in Jane’s room that evening. Id. John and his roommate then offered to let Jane stay in their room, and she accepted. Id. In her statement, Jane then describes a sexual encounter with John that transitioned between consensual and non-consensual acts: I had made out with [John] a couple of times before then, so I decided to stay with them, I had just kind of assumed we might make out again. I did not know [his roommate] was going to stay there. At the time I thought I gave [my friend] my ID to get into my dorm to stay there. And she left. At this point I was kinda sobered up and thought [John] and [his roommate] were too. So they gave me a change of clothes and told me to pick a bed. I picked [John’s] bed, because I thought that would be

Page 586 less weird. We got in bed and turned of [sic] the lights and we thought [the roommate] was asleep, [John] started kissing me and that was okay and what I expected and fine. He had asked me to do things before, and I had said no, and he had kept pressuring me to do things and I kept saying no, no, no. And he asked me again, if he could finger me and I said fine, because I was tired of him asking me. I am a virgin and Christian, and I don’t do that. So he started doing that, and it was hurting. I said " [John] stop it is hurting." He said " Oh it will hurt at first, you will be fine in a couple of minutes." I said " Okay fine, whatever." It kept hurting and never got better. I kept saying stop and it hurts. [John] kept telling me to be quite [sic] because I would wake up [his roommate]. I finally got him to stop doing it, after telling him I pushed him away. We went back to kissing. He asked to eat me out. And I said no you are not doing that. We were kissing and then he just did it. I never said no. I pushed him away. He rolled over and went to sleep.

Id.

Jane discussed the incident with several of her friends. Id. at 2 (Page ID #2037); R. 39 (Am. Compl. ¶ 28) (Page ID #1979). One of her friends informed a Resident Advisor (" RA" ) that John had sexually assaulted Jane. R. 39 (Am. Compl. ¶ 28) (Page ID #1979). The RA informed her superiors at Miami about the alleged sexual assault and also expressed concern that John might harm himself because of the accusation. Id. ¶ 29 (Page ID #1979).

On September 16, 2014, Miami University’s Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Michael Curme emailed John and informed him that the University had received a report that he had sexually assaulted another student two days before. R. 39-2 (Pl. Ex. 3: Summ. Hr’g Notification at 4) (Page ID #2042). Curme told John that he was required to attend a summary suspension hearing the following day. Id. Following that hearing, the University imposed several restrictions on John, including one that prohibited him from contacting Jane. R. 39 (Am. Compl. ¶ 31) (Page ID #1980); R. 39-2 (Pl. Ex. 4: Summ. Hr’g Dec. at 5) (Page ID #2047).

On or about September 19, 2014, Miami University’s Emergency Case Manager Tim Parsons met with John to explain the disciplinary process at Miami. R. 39 (Am. Compl. ¶ 34) (Page ID #1980). John applied for, and received, a Medical Leave of Absence from the University, effective September 23, 2014, because of his psychological distress resulting from the accusations. Id. ¶¶ 37-38 (Page ID #1981).

Also on September 23, 2014, defendant Susan Vaughn, the Director of...

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