The Eighth Circuit panel split 2–1 regarding the plaintiff’s state law claims of premises liability and negligence. Pearson notified the appeals officer that she could not obtain the text messages. Baylor raised three primary arguments that plaintiffs’ post-reporting allegations were insufficient to state a claim for liability, each of which the court rejected. They agreed that FS would be instructed to stay out of the library and have no contact with Pearson. In September 2015, Morgan Pearson (“Pearson”) enrolled at Logan. Plaintiffs are also asserting concurrently that before their initial reports of the sexual misconduct the institution engaged in an official policy of discrimination posing a heightened risk to students. Second, even if a “heightened risk” theory is cognizable, Baylor maintains that the court applied an overly broad statute of limitations analysis in allowing claims dating back over a decade. Privacy Policy | Terms of Use and Conditions | Statement of Client Rights | Nixon Peabody International LLP Sawalich viewed Pearson’s report to constitute alleged harassment and stalking, advising the student that she was required to investigate FS’s conduct. Lawyers Weekly Staff August 10, 2020. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel. Given the procedural posture, the court had to accept the truth of plaintiffs’ well-pled factual allegations and determine only whether plaintiffs have pled plausible Title IX claims for relief. A few days later, Pearson met with the administrator and Sawalich and elected to drop her anonymity to allow Sawalich to proceed with the investigation. Plaintiffs also contend that Baylor’s responses reflected a practice of mishandling reports of peer sexual assault and chilled student reporting. The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of the firm. Shortly thereafter, Pearson emailed Sawalich requesting an update and indicating that she still felt unsafe on campus. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. March 7, 2017).[1]. As conventionally understood, deliberate indifference is “the conscious or reckless disregard of the consequences of one’s acts or omissions.” A college or university can be deliberately indifferent when it sweeps harassment under the rugdespite actual knowledge of the harassment. 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In some of the cases our firm has handled, it has become apparent that although sexual harassment or abuse may have occurred at the school or during a school-sponsored activity, the school had no actual notice of it. As a sound defense strategy, a college or university should establish early in the litigation, either through pre-trial rulings or conferences with the court, the precise scope of the applicable claims and permissible discovery. See 2001 Guidance at ii-v, 12-13. As noted above, plaintiffs typically assert the institution responded with deliberate indifference after they reported the sexual misconduct. In the Northern District of Indiana, the University of Notre Dame successfully obtained a dismissal of the Plaintiff’s Title IX claim in a case with an unusual circumstance: the alleged victim wanted the school to stand down and take no action. Third, Baylor argued that plaintiffs have not stated plausible allegations that they were subjected to further harassment after their reporting, especially for those individual plaintiffs who do not allege any specific instances of subsequent assault or harassment. Plaintiffs assert that, after each sought assistance and protection from Baylor, the university acted with deliberate indifference. While noting that allegations of further assault or harassment are necessary for a claim under Title IX, the court ruled that “to subject” a student to harassment “a school need only make the student vulnerable to that harassment.” The court concluded that each plaintiff adequately alleges Baylor’s failure to investigate her reporting of an assault and ensure that she would not thereafter be subjected to continuing assault and harassment. Mar. While Kilpatrick described FS as “creepy,” she had not previously complained of his behavior and did not report any ongoing harassment. 18-2764 (8th Cir. Their rulings have varied in the evolving Title IX litigation landscape and require a careful analysis of the particular nuances of each case. The majority found that Pearson and Kilpatrick failed to prove the existence of a special relationship under either scenario. Affirming a judgment in Logan’s favor, the Eight Circuit’s three-justice panel ruled unanimously that both students’ Title IX claims failed as a matter of law. Particularly, Baylor seeks immediate appellate review of two legal issues. Image from the award-winning film A Hero for Daisy. 12 This is the standard for administrative enforcement of Title IX and in court cases where plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief. The Honor Council met after reviewing the report, Sawalich’s interview summaries, and the responses to the report by Pearson and FS. Plaintiffs also contend that Baylor’s responses reflected a practice of mishandling reports of peer sexual assault and chilled student reporting. Colleges also had a duty to eliminate the harassing conduct and ensure the survivor/victim full participation in any education program or … Logan and Pearson appealed to the Eighth Circuit. Privacy Policy | Terms of Use and Conditions | Statement of Client Rights | Nixon Peabody International LLP The panelists were trained on Title IX and acted within their discretion. The dean conveyed Pearson’s allegations to another dean and the Title IX coordinator, Shelley Sawalich (“Sawalich”). The court concluded that, while it is plausible that the plaintiffs were aware of their heightened risk claims when their assaults occurred, it is also plausible that they had no reason to further investigate those claims until the media reports surfaced. Documentation regarding the conducting and evaluation of a complete and careful threat assessment will often be vital evidence in the defense of a Title IX lawsuit. 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