Heineke v. Santa Clara University, 072020 FED9, 18-16348

Docket Nº:18-16348
Opinion Judge:PAEZ, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Party Name:John M. Heineke, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Santa Clara University; Jane Doe, Defendants-Appellees.
Attorney:Samuel Kornhauser (argued), Law Offices of Samuel Kornhauser, San Francisco, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant. Don Willenburg (argued), Gordon & Rees LLP, Oakland, California; Marcie Isom Fitzsimmons and Sara A. Moore, Gordon & Rees LLP, San Francisco, California; for Defendants-Appellees.
Judge Panel:Before: Richard A. Paez and Carlos T. Bea, Circuit Judges, and Lynn S. Adelman, District Judge.
Case Date:July 20, 2020
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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John M. Heineke, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Santa Clara University; Jane Doe, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 18-16348

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 20, 2020

Argued and Submitted February 7, 2020 San Francisco, California

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California No. 5:17-cv-05285-LHK Lucy H. Koh, District Judge, Presiding

Samuel Kornhauser (argued), Law Offices of Samuel Kornhauser, San Francisco, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Don Willenburg (argued), Gordon & Rees LLP, Oakland, California; Marcie Isom Fitzsimmons and Sara A. Moore, Gordon & Rees LLP, San Francisco, California; for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: Richard A. Paez and Carlos T. Bea, Circuit Judges, and Lynn S. Adelman, [*] District Judge.

SUMMARY

[**]

Civil Rights

The panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of the Fourteenth Amendment and of state law arising from the suspension and termination of plaintiff's employment.

Santa Clara University terminated plaintiff's employment as an economics professor after concluding that plaintiff had sexually harassed his former student. The panel stated that it could not conclude, on the basis of plaintiff's allegations, that Santa Clara University was a state actor. The panel held that the University, as a private university, does not become a state actor merely by virtue of being required by generally applicable civil rights laws to ameliorate sex (or any other form of) discrimination. The panel further held that receipt of federal and state funds conditioned on compliance with anti-discrimination laws is insufficient to convert private conduct into state action. The panel addressed plaintiff's other claims in a concurrently filed memorandum disposition.

OPINION

PAEZ, CIRCUIT JUDGE

Defendant Santa Clara University ("SCU") suspended and later terminated the employment of Plaintiff John Heineke ("Heineke"), a tenured economics professor, after concluding that he had sexually harassed his former student, Jane Doe. Heineke sued SCU and Doe in federal court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of the Fourteenth Amendment. He also alleged state tort and contract law claims. The district court dismissed the constitutional claims, denied leave to amend to add a federal statutory claim, declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims, and declined to order SCU to reinstate Heineke to his tenured professorship. We affirm the dismissal of the Fourteenth Amendment claims. We address the denial of leave to amend, decision not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction, and denial of the mandatory injunction in a concurrently filed memorandum disposition.

I.

John Heineke taught Jane Doe in his economics course at Santa Clara University. The two met on several occasions to discuss course materials. After Doe earned an "A" in the class, Heineke offered her a position as a teaching assistant for the following school year, which she accepted. A few days before the class and Doe's teaching assistant obligations were to begin, Doe sent Heineke an email stating, "I feel VERY VERY UNCOMFORTABLE when somebody touch[es] my body, kiss[es] me in the face and mouth, tell[s] me some sex joke, aka sexual harassment." In response to Doe's email, Heineke wrote that he was "stunned" and "devastated" by the accusation, and then asked if she would still be his teaching assistant. Doe complained to SCU about the alleged harassment but ultimately did not pursue the complaint.

Subsequently, another student filed a complaint against Heineke for unrelated incidents of alleged sexual harassment. SCU hired a third-party investigator to investigate the allegations, which the investigator ultimately concluded were not supported by the evidence. While investigating the other student's allegations, however, the investigator learned of Doe's prior complaint and opened a formal investigation into it. After interviewing Doe and witnesses, the investigator issued a lengthy report, which concluded that Heineke more likely than not had sexually harassed Doe. Heineke appealed the finding to the provost, who affirmed the determination, concluded that Heineke's conduct violated SCU's harassment policy, and issued a sanction of termination. Heineke then appealed to SCU's president, who upheld the termination, and later to SCU's Faculty Judicial Board, which held a hearing at which Heineke was represented by...

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