Case Law Update: Dyshawn Pierre v. University of Dayton

CASE LAW UPDATE

student-suspended-photoDyshawn Pierre v. University of Dayton

(2015 WL 6125303, United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division) October 19, 2015

In this case, the student Plaintiff claimed that his rights under Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) were violated. The Plaintiff requested a temporary restraining order to prevent his one semester suspension from the University from taking effect. The Plaintiff further sought to vacate the University Hearing Board’s (UHB) decision that he violated the College’s sexual harassment policy. The facts of the case revealed that the Plaintiff and the complaining female student were voluntarily in the Plaintiff’s dorm room and had sexual intercourse. The female complaining student filed a complaint ten (10) days later with the University as well as a police report.

The Plaintiff was notified of the complaint and was advised that the University’s Title IX Officer would be investigating. The Plaintiff was given a copy of the complaint and a description of procedures and protocols regarding the investigation. The Plaintiff chose to supply a written statement to the Title IX investigations because of the pending criminal investigation. Two University Law School Professors who had completed specialized training by the Association of Title IX Administrators conducted the investigation. The Investigators took a statement from the complaining witness and interviewed witnesses identified by her as having relevant knowledge. The Investigators also received the Plaintiff’s statement and text messages, University Student Health Center records and University of Dayton Police Report. The Plaintiff was given the opportunity to submit additional information. Ultimately, the Investigators recommended that the entire matter be sent for an Accountability Hearing to determine if the Plaintiff was responsible for violating the sexual harassment section of the Code of Conduct. The Plaintiff had an attorney for the hearing who was only allowed to serve in an advisor capacity. The Hearing Board found that the Plaintiff violated the Student Code of Conduct and issued a one semester suspension of the Plaintiff.

The Plaintiff then sued in Federal Court and requested a temporary restraining order to prevent his suspension. The Plaintiff’s Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order was denied. The Court found that because the Plaintiff only brought up his alleged disability and any need for accommodation after his hearing, the University did not have proper notice of the Plaintiff’s need for an accommodation. The Court further found that the Plaintiff had received adequate due process protections and that the disciplinary process was fundamentally fair. Finally, the Court found that the Plaintiff was not irreparably harmed because he could re-enroll after the suspension was served.

Patrick R. Sturdy is a partner in our Livonia office where he concentrates his practice on intellectual property, business law, education law, and employment and labor law. He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or psturdy@cmda-law.com.