Title IX case against IU Medical School officials continues to summary judgment

A Title IX lawsuit filed by a former student against the Indiana University School of Medicine and its top officials will be able to partially continue after a federal court allowed certain due process allegations arising from the expulsion to proceed.

The male student, identified as John Doe, filed the complaint after he was expelled from the medical school in June 2020. He asserted the university, the trustees and university officials, including IUSM Dean Jay Hess and Senior Associate Dean for Medical Student Education Bradley Allen, violated Title IX and his 14th Amendment due process rights by depriving him of his protected liberty and property interests.

In a nine-page ruling issued Monday, the Southern Indiana District Court granted, in part, the defendants’ partial motion to dismiss. But Judge James Sweeney let stand the due process claims for prospective injunctive relief against Hess and Allen in their official capacities.

The court noted the surviving claims against Hess and Allen will be considered in the decision on summary judgment.

In his amended complaint, Doe asserted his dismissal from the university was the result of a “flawed and biased Title IX sexual misconduct process” following allegations brought by his former girlfriend and medical school classmate. He conceded that while their relationship was “at times tempestuous,” they still “loved each other fiercely and planned to spend their lives together.”

Hess and Allen, along with the other defendants, successfully argued they are immune from the lawsuit because they are public entities.

Citing de Lima Silva v. Dep’t of Corrs., 917 F.3d 546, 565 (7th Cir. 2019), and Joseph v. Bd. Of Regents of Univ. of Wis. Sys., 432 F.3d 746, 748 (7th Cir. 2005), the district court noted that the 11th Amendment bars private litigants’ suits against nonconsenting states and that this immunity extends to state agencies and state officials in their official capacities. The court found those immunity protections covered IU, the board of trustees and the officials named in Doe’s lawsuit.

Also, the court dismissed Doe’s procedural due process claims for damages against Hess, Allen and Gregory Kuester, an interim investigator hired by the university.

The case is John Doe v. The Trustees of Indiana University, et al., 1:20-cv-02006.

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