Doe v. Wash. Univ.

Decision Date21 January 2020
Docket NumberCase No. 4:19 CV 300 (JMB)
Parties John DOE, Plaintiff, v. WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Missouri

434 F.Supp.3d 735

John DOE, Plaintiff,

Case No. 4:19 CV 300 (JMB)

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division.

Signed January 21, 2020

434 F.Supp.3d 741

John Galt Covert, The Llorens Law Group, Ltd., Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff.

Lisa A. Pake, Matthew Ambrose Martin, Robert T. Haar, Haar and Woods, LLP, St. Louis, MO, for Defendant.



This matter is before the Court on defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to state a claim for relief, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), Fed. R. Civ. P. The parties have fully briefed the issues and appeared for oral argument on October 25, 2019. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

Plaintiff John Doe was an undergraduate student enrolled at defendant Washington University. In April 2018, a female undergraduate student, identified here as "Jane Roe," filed a complaint with Washington University's Title IX Office, alleging that plaintiff sexually assaulted her. Following an investigation, Washington University concluded that plaintiff was guilty of sexual misconduct. As a consequence, plaintiff was expelled from the university and a notation was placed on his transcript. Plaintiff alleges that defendant's sexual-assault investigation procedures violated his civil rights and were improperly motivated by his gender. He brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his procedural and substantive due process rights (Counts I and IX); conspiracy to deprive him of his civil rights under § 1983 and § 1985 (Count VIII); and a void-for-vagueness claim (Count X). He also asserts claims for violation of his rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq. (Count II, III, and IV). Finally, he brings state common-law claims for breach of contract (Count V); promissory estoppel and reliance (Count VI), unjust enrichment (Count VII) and negligence (Count XI).

I. Background Facts1

In April 2018, plaintiff John Doe was in his final semester at Washington University.

434 F.Supp.3d 742

He expected to graduate and then begin law school in August 2018. Amended Complaint ¶¶ 45-46. [Doc. # 52]. Plaintiff and Jane Roe, a freshman, had met each other at parties hosted by a student organization in the autumn of 2017 and December 2017. Id. ¶ 100. They did not socialize outside of these parties, but did occasionally chat through Tinder. Plaintiff Panel Transcript ("Plaintiff Tr.") at 19 [Doc. # 15-17 at 5].

In early April 2018, Jane contacted plaintiff through Tinder. She said she had broken up with her boyfriend and asked if she could see him. Amended Comp. ¶ 101. They made plans to meet at his apartment on the evening of April 6, 2018, where she arrived at 11:00 p.m. At her request, plaintiff made Jane a drink of gin and orange juice. Id. ¶ 92. Plaintiff later stated that he thought the drink had 3 or 3.5 shots of alcohol in it.2 Id. ¶ 119. The two spent time sitting on the couch and talking about intimate details of their lives. Id. ¶ 129; Plaintiff Tr. at 47, 88. Jane asked for a second drink after finishing the first. Plaintiff made her a second, weaker drink, which she did not finish. Plaintiff Tr. at 33, 45; Plaintiff Response to Investigative Report ("Plaintiff Resp.") at 4 [Doc. # 15-8].

At some point, Jane asked if they could move to plaintiff's bedroom where they had intercourse. Plaintiff Tr. at 45-46, 52-56. Later, Jane asked to go to the bathroom. Plaintiff took her by the hand and showed her to the bathroom. Id. at 64. She said she was feeling a little sick and then vomited on the floor. Id. at 58. Plaintiff cleaned the bathroom floor and walked Jane back to his bed, where she fell asleep while he sat at his computer. Id. at 59-60; 74. Jane woke up about an hour or two later and expressed interest in having intercourse again. Id. at 73-79. During this second sexual encounter, she told plaintiff that she loved him and wanted to move to the same town where he would be attending law school. Id. at 81. They then slept until about 10:00 in the morning. Id. at 83. She left plaintiff's apartment at about noon on April 7th, saying she had had a good time. Amended Comp. ¶¶ 54, 107. While on the way back to campus in an Uber, Jane texted to a group chat, telling her friends that she had been "super wasted" the night before. She wrote that she was "concerned that I had sex with someone and I don't remember that much." In the same text, she noted that it had been "totally consensual and I don't regret it!" Panel Decision at 53 [Doc. # 15-20].

Jane had a prearranged appointment with her therapist that day. See Investigative Report at 28 [Doc. # 15-6]. Her therapist noted that Jane did not seem particularly coherent. Jane told her therapist that she had had "way too much to drink." Her therapist told the investigator that she was disturbed by how "out of it" Jane seemed and that she "gets drunk quickly." Id.

On April 8, 2018, Jane contacted plaintiff and suggested they see each other again. They made a plan to meet on April 12th. Amended Comp. ¶ 110. On April 9, 2018, Jane Roe sought medical care at Student Health Services, stating that she had been raped. See Medical Records [Doc. # 15-6 at 25-26]. When plaintiff tried to get in touch with Jane on April 12th, he learned

434 F.Supp.3d 743

that he had been blocked from his Tinder account and her Facebook page. Amended Comp. ¶ 112.

On April 18, 2018, plaintiff attended a meeting with University administrators to address complaints brought against him by two other students alleging physical and sexual assault. Id. at 57; Suspension Letter [Doc. # 15-5]. Plaintiff was temporarily suspended at that meeting. Suspension Letter. On April 20, 2018, Jane Roe filed a complaint with Washington University's Title IX Office, alleging that plaintiff sexually assaulted her. Amended Comp. ¶ 55. In her complaint, Jane Roe stated that she went to plaintiff's apartment, where he gave her an alcoholic drink. She alleged that, after finishing the drink, she next recalled vomiting in plaintiff's bathroom. The next thing she remembered was "coming to" with "his penis inside of [her]." Roe Complaint [Doc. # 15-4].

Also on April 20, 2018, the Dean of Students confirmed plaintiff's suspension in writing and informed him that a third complaint — Jane Roe's — had been filed against him. Suspension Letter. The letter stated, "Your continued presence on campus poses a substantial threat to the ability of other students to continue their normal University functions and activities." Plaintiff was informed that, "[e]ffective immediately," he was "no longer permitted on campus." The suspension would remain in effect until all charges against him were heard and decided. Provisions were made for plaintiff to finish his course work. Plaintiff was informed that he could request a meeting with the Dean to discuss the temporary suspension. Id.

On April 25, 2018, Washington University notified the Title IX Investigator that Jane Roe had reported "an incident of nonconsensual sexual contact." See Investigative Report. The Investigator interviewed 11 witnesses in addition to Jane Roe and plaintiff. Id. at 1. Plaintiff was accompanied by a private attorney to his interview. Id. at 6. The Investigator also received written statements from Jane Roe and plaintiff,4 records from Jane Roe's April 9th medical examination, and text messages provided by five of the witnesses. Id. The Investigative Report was issued on July 11, 2018. Jane Roe and plaintiff each received copies of the report and submitted written responses. Jane Roe Response [Doc. # 15-7]; Plaintiff Response [Doc. # 15-8]. On August 27, 2018, the Investigator issued a supplemental report after speaking with Jane Roe's therapist. [Doc. # 15-6 at 27-29]. Jane Roe submitted a written response to the supplemental report. [Doc. #15-9]. After learning that Jane had submitted a supplemental response, plaintiff attempted to submit a supplemental response of his own but was told that he had missed the deadline. Amended Comp. ¶ 68. He has not provided the Court with a copy of the supplemental response he attempted to submit.

The Investigator delivered the report and responses to a three-member panel, in accordance with the University's written policy. See id. ¶ 70; USAIB [University Sexual Assault Investigation Board] Procedures for Complaints of Sexual Assault Filed Against Students, ("USAIB Procedures") ¶ g [Doc. # 45-1 at 6] ("Following the investigation, the Investigator will provide an initial report to a three member panel..."). The panel interviewed plaintiff, Jane Roe, and four other student witnesses in August and September 2018.

434 F.Supp.3d 744

Amended Comp. ¶ 65; Transcripts [Docs. ## 15-13 through 15-19]. Plaintiff was accompanied by his attorney to his interview.

On November 7, 2018, the panel issued a unanimous decision finding that plaintiff had violated a provision of the University Student Conduct Code5 making it an offense for a student to have sexual contact with a member of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
10 cases
  • C. Pepper Logistics v. Lanter Delivery Sys.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • 23 Agosto 2021
    ...... challenge. See Hawse v. Page , No. 20-1960, 2021 WL. 3234293, at *5 (8th Cir. July 30, 2021); cf. Doe v. Wash. Univ. , 434 F.Supp.3d 735, 759 (E.D. Mo. 2020). (“The Court questions the wisdom of a pleading strategy. that leaves it to the ......
  • Thunderhawk v. Cnty. of Morton
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court of North Dakota
    • 1 Septiembre 2020
    ...may qualify as a state actor when it exercises ‘powers traditionally exclusively reserved to the State.’ " Doe v. Washington Univ., 434 F. Supp. 3d 735, 747 (E.D. Mo. 2020), reconsideration denied, No. 4:19 CV 300 (JMB), 2020 WL 1308209 (E.D. Mo. Mar. 19, 2020). However, the Eighth Circuit ......
  • Doe v. Harvard Univ., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-12150-IT
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • 28 Mayo 2020
    ...of university procedures transformed the schools into state actors have rejected that argument. See, e.g., Doe v. Washington Univ., 434 F.Supp.3d 735, 747-49 (E.D. Mo. 2020) ; Doe v. Univ. of Denver, 2019 WL 3943858, at *10-11 (D. Colo. Aug. 20, 2019) ; Doe v. Univ. of Denver, 2018 WL 13045......
  • Rowles v. Curators of the Univ. of Mo.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • 18 Diciembre 2020 the present investigation, plausibly demonstrates that the University disciplined Rowles based on his sex. See Doe v. Wash. Univ., 434 F. Supp. 3d 735, 760 (E.D. Mo. 2020) (finding that Title IX investigator's op-ed in which she expressed support for students who are sexually assaulted d......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT