Beasley v. Alabama State University, No. CIV. A. 96-T-473-N.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
Writing for the CourtMyron H. Thompson
Citation3 F.Supp.2d 1304
PartiesAudra BEASLEY, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated, Plaintiff, v. ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. CIV. A. 96-T-473-N.
Decision Date23 March 1998
3 F.Supp.2d 1304
Audra BEASLEY, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.
No. CIV. A. 96-T-473-N.
United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division.
March 23, 1998.
Opinion Supplementing Decision April 27, 1998.

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Joseph (Jay) Brady Lewis, Terry R. Smyly, Law Offices of Jay Lewis, Montgomery, AL, J. Bernard Brannan, Jr., Brannan & Guy, Montgomery, AL, John R. Moore, Isabelle Katz Pinzler, United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division Educational Opportunities Section, Kathryn Woodruff, United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Washington, DC, for Audra Beasley, individually, and on behalf of all other similarly situated, United States of America, plaintiffs.

Solomon S. Seay, Jr., Montgomery, AL, Cynthia Williams Clinton, Mark Englehart, Kenneth Lamar Thomas, Thomas, Means & Gillis, P.C., Montgomery, AL, for Defendants.

ORDER

MYRON H. THOMPSON, Chief Judge.


The issue presented to the court is whether a claim brought against a state university based on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C.A. §§ 1681 through 1688 (West 1990), and its implementing regulations, 34 C.F.R. §§ 106.38, 106.41 (1997), is barred by the eleventh amendment to the United States Constitution.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Audra Beasley, a female student and former athlete at defendant Alabama State University (ASU), filed this lawsuit on March 15, 1996, claiming that ASU, through its trustees and various officers, was in violation of Title IX and its implementing regulations, as well as the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution, as enforced through 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 (West 1994). By orders entered March 27 and June 9, 1997, this court dismissed a number of claims and defendants, ruling that ASU may be sued under Title IX, and that other individually-named, current officers of ASU may be sued in their official capacities for injunctive relief under Title IX and the fourteenth amendment. Beasley v. Alabama State Univ., 966 F.Supp. 1117 (M.D.Ala.1997) (Thompson, J.).

On August 7, 1997, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment as to all remaining claims in the case. In addition to their contention that summary judgment should be granted as to these claims on their merits, the defendants asserted that all Title IX claims against ASU and any remaining monetary claims against the individual defendants under Title IX are barred by the immunity granted by the eleventh amendment

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to the United States Constitution. On September 15, 1997, the court notified the Attorney General of the United States, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. § 2403(a) (West 1994) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(c) (West 1997), of this challenge to the constitutionality of Title IX, and on October 28, 1997, the United States filed a complaint-in-intervention in this action to defend the constitutionality of Title IX.

By order entered October 28, 1997, the court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment as premature to the extent that the defendants sought adjudication on the merits of Beasley's claims. However, the court stated that it would rule on the legal issues raised by the defendants' contention that Beasley's Title IX claims are barred by the eleventh amendment.

In this order, the court addresses these legal issues, and holds that, because ASU voluntarily waived any eleventh amendment immunity it enjoyed against this lawsuit when it accepted federal funds for education in the face of Title IX's clear statement that such a waiver would occur, this court may exercise jurisdiction over Beasley's Title IX claims.

II. DISCUSSION

The defendants contend that they are entitled to summary judgment on all of Beasley's claims brought pursuant to Title IX because such claims are barred by the eleventh amendment, which provides:

"The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State."

Eleventh amendment sovereign immunity has been held to apply to suits brought by citizens against their own state, and is likewise applicable to cases in which the court's jurisdiction is grounded on the existence of a federal question. See Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe, 521 U.S. 261, ___, 117 S.Ct. 2028, 2033, 138 L.Ed.2d 438 (1997); Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak, 501 U.S. 775, 779, 111 S.Ct. 2578, 2581, 115 L.Ed.2d 686 (1991). Here, it is undisputed that Beasley is a citizen of Alabama and that ASU is an instrumentality of the state that is entitled to Alabama's sovereign immunity. See Harden v. Adams, 760 F.2d 1158 (11th Cir.1985) (holding that state universities are agencies or instrumentalities of the state for purposes of eleventh amendment immunity); Davis v. Alabama State Univ., 613 F.Supp. 134, 139-40 (M.D.Ala.1985) (Thompson, J.) (holding that the eleventh amendment prohibits federal courts from entertaining suits against ASU and its board of trustees, as well as suits for damages against the president of ASU in his official capacity). Thus, as a general proposition, the eleventh amendment bars all of Beasley's claims against ASU, regardless of the relief she seeks. See Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 100, 104 S.Ct. 900, 908, 79 L.Ed.2d 67 (1984) ("[A] suit in which the State or one of its agencies or departments is named as defendant is proscribed by the Eleventh Amendment.... This jurisdictional bar applies regardless of the nature of the relief sought.").

By contrast, the eleventh amendment exerts a different effect on the individual defendants who remain in this case. Specifically, to the extent Beasley seeks prospective injunctive relief against the individual defendants in their official capacities, the eleventh amendment presents no bar to her claims, under the exception first articulated in Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 28 S.Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed. 714 (1908), for actions seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against state officials for alleged violations of federal law. However, the eleventh amendment does preclude Beasley from obtaining monetary damages from the individual defendants in their official capacities. See Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 169, 105 S.Ct. 3099, 3107, 87 L.Ed.2d 114 (1985) ("[T]he Eleventh Amendment bars a damages action against a State in federal court.... This bar remains in effect when State officials are sued for damages in their official capacity."). Accordingly, at issue in the present motion is whether Beasley may bring any claims for relief against ASU, and whether she may bring claims for monetary damages against the individual defendants in their official capacities. This analysis, however, does not bear

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upon her ability to sue the individual defendants for injunctive relief. Therefore, when the court alludes generically to Beasley's Title IX claims in this order it refers to all of her claims against ASU, and to her claims for monetary relief against the individual defendants in their official capacities.

The main thrust of the defendants' eleventh amendment argument is that the court may not exercise jurisdiction over Beasley's surviving claims because Congress has failed to abrogate effectively Alabama's, and hence ASU's, eleventh amendment immunity for claims brought pursuant to Title IX. The United States Attorney General counters by asserting that the defendants misread and misapply the pertinent case law, and that Congress has indeed validly abrogated states' immunity in Title IX, as amended by the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1986, Pub.L. No. 99-506, Tit. I, § 1003, 100 Stat. 1845 (1986). This dispute is fueled by the parties' contradictory readings of an important recent Supreme Court decision, Seminole Tribe v. Florida, 517 U.S. 44, 116 S.Ct. 1114, 134 L.Ed.2d 252 (1996), with additional heat provided by their inconsistent interpretations of Title IX's so-called `abrogation provision,' 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000d-7 (West 1994).

In taking this abrogation and Seminole Tribe-centered approach to the eleventh amendment issue, the parties adhere to a mode of analysis that has been adopted by other courts that have addressed this issue in the Title IX context. See, e.g., Crawford v. Davis, 109 F.3d 1281, 1283 (8th Cir.1997); Franks v. Kentucky Sch. for the Deaf, 956 F.Supp. 741, 749-51 (E.D.Ky.1996), appeal pending, No. 97-5075 (6th Cir.). As explained more fully below, however, this court concludes that the particular nature of Title IX, specifically the fact that it is a spending clause enactment and therefore does not thrust abrogation upon potentially unwilling states, but rather conditions the receipt of federal funds for education upon the states' voluntary waiver of sovereign immunity, renders the parties' approach inapt. Instead, as the United States Attorney General argues in the alternative, the appropriate approach to the issue involves an assessment of whether Congress may constitutionally condition the receipt of education funds by states on such a waiver, and, if so, whether it provided the states with sufficient notice that their acceptance of federal education funds would result in the waiver of their eleventh amendment immunity for private damages actions brought pursuant to Title IX. The focal point of this analysis is not Seminole Tribe, but rather the Supreme Court's decisions in Atascadero State Hospital v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 105 S.Ct. 3142, 87 L.Ed.2d 171 (1985) and South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203, 107 S.Ct. 2793, 97 L.Ed.2d 171 (1987), as well as other decisions interpreting the scope of Congress's spending clause power.

In the following discussion, the court will first briefly discuss the abrogation-based approach to the...

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6 practice notes
  • Pittman v. Cole, No. Civ.A. 00-0865-CB-L.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • October 17, 2000
    ...plaintiffs from obtaining monetary damages from individual defendants in their official capacities. See Beasley v. Alabama State Univ., 3 F.Supp.2d 1304, 1307 (M.D.Ala.1998). In determining whether suits against state officials are in truth suits against the state and thus outside of federa......
  • Sandoval v. Hagan, No. Civ.A. 96-D-1875-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • January 1, 1999
    ...immunity as opposed to the forced unilateral abrogation that concerned the Court in Seminole Tribe. See Beasley v. Alabama State Univ., 3 F.Supp.2d 1304, 1308 (M.D.Ala.1998) (declining to apply Seminole Tribe in Title IX context because like Title VI, "it is a spending clause enactment and ......
  • Sandoval v. Hagan, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • November 30, 1999
    ...Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a parallel provision to the Title VI waiver); see also Beasley v. Alabama State Univ., 3 F.Supp.2d 1304, 1307-16 (M.D.Al.1998) (finding Section 2000d-7 to be a valid waiver under the Spending Clause power for Title IX suits after detailed analy......
  • Neelley v. Walker, Case No. 2:14–CV–269–WKW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • November 10, 2014
    ...in their official capacities for prospective injunctive relief for alleged violations of federal law, see Beasley v. Ala. State Univ., 3 F.Supp.2d 1304, 1307 (M.D.Ala.1998) (citing Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 28 S.Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed. 714 (1908) ), Defendants are not subject to suit in feder......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Pittman v. Cole, No. Civ.A. 00-0865-CB-L.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • October 17, 2000
    ...plaintiffs from obtaining monetary damages from individual defendants in their official capacities. See Beasley v. Alabama State Univ., 3 F.Supp.2d 1304, 1307 (M.D.Ala.1998). In determining whether suits against state officials are in truth suits against the state and thus outside of federa......
  • Sandoval v. Hagan, No. Civ.A. 96-D-1875-N.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • January 1, 1999
    ...immunity as opposed to the forced unilateral abrogation that concerned the Court in Seminole Tribe. See Beasley v. Alabama State Univ., 3 F.Supp.2d 1304, 1308 (M.D.Ala.1998) (declining to apply Seminole Tribe in Title IX context because like Title VI, "it is a spending clause enactment and ......
  • Sandoval v. Hagan, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • November 30, 1999
    ...Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a parallel provision to the Title VI waiver); see also Beasley v. Alabama State Univ., 3 F.Supp.2d 1304, 1307-16 (M.D.Al.1998) (finding Section 2000d-7 to be a valid waiver under the Spending Clause power for Title IX suits after detailed analy......
  • Neelley v. Walker, Case No. 2:14–CV–269–WKW.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
    • November 10, 2014
    ...in their official capacities for prospective injunctive relief for alleged violations of federal law, see Beasley v. Ala. State Univ., 3 F.Supp.2d 1304, 1307 (M.D.Ala.1998) (citing Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 28 S.Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed. 714 (1908) ), Defendants are not subject to suit in feder......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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