KaiserDillon Wins “Pathbreaking” Title IX Case in the Sixth Circuit
In a decision that one prominent commentator calls “pathbreaking”, KaiserDillon’s Justin Dillon and Chris Muha secured victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for a client whose expulsion from Oberlin College was, in the words of the appeals court, “arguably inexplicable.” John Doe sued Oberlin College under Title IX after being expelled for sexual assault, and when his Title IX claim was dismissed by the trial court, he appealed to the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit reversed the trial court, holding that, “for any number of reasons,” Mr. Doe had adequately pled that his expulsion was due to unlawful gender discrimination.
In a final paragraph that will make it easier for wrongly disciplined students to vindicate themselves, the appeals court enshrined the “common sense” idea, resisted by many courts, that when a school’s disciplinary decision cuts strongly against the weight of the evidence before it, “the merits of the decision itself” can be evidence that the decision was due in part to gender bias, as required to bring a Title IX claim. A student’s ability to assert a Title IX claim significantly affects the kind of damages available in a lawsuit and the strength of a student’s bargaining position with a school throughout the course of litigation. The Sixth Circuit’s decision helps to level the field between disciplined students and their schools.
The full opinion in John Doe v. Oberlin College can be found here.