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Law School Case Brief

Moore v. Regents of the Univ. of Cal. - No. 15-cv-05779-RS, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125905 (N.D. Cal. Sep. 15, 2016)

Rule:

Institutions are deemed "deliberately indifferent" to acts of student-on-student harassment only where the recipient's response to the harassment or lack thereof is clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.  Institutions are not required to purge their school of actionable peer harassment, nor do victims of peer harassment have a Title IX right to make particular remedial demands. Instead, the standard is akin to an official decision by the institution not to remedy the violation. This is an exacting standard that requires a showing of a response that was more deficient than merely negligent, lazy, or careless.

Facts:

Plaintiff Hayley Moore filed suit against defendants The Regents of the University of California, seeking to hold the university liable for gender discrimination in violation of Title IX. She contended that she was a victim of sexual assault while enrolled as a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara and that the university responded with deliberate indifference when she reported her assault to school officials. The university moved to dismiss the complaint on the basis that Moore failed to plead adequately deliberate indifference based on the university's pre-or post-assault conduct. 

Issue:

In the lawsuit seeking to hold defendant university liable for gender discrimination in violation of Title IX, did plaintiff student adequately plead "deliberate indifference?"

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The United States District Court held that plaintiff Moore had not pleaded adequately deliberate indifference based on the university's pre-or post-assault conduct. Thus, to the extent Moore's claim was based on the school's pre-assault conduct, the motion to dismiss was granted without leave to amend. The Court explained that a university can be held liable for violating Title IX in connection with peer-on-peer harassment only in "limited circumstances," where five requirements are met. Here, the Court found that Moore failed to state a claim against the university based on its pre-assault response to the general problem of sexual violence on campus and did not allege an affirmative institutional decision or official school policy of the university. Nevertheless, to the extent Moore's claim was based on the school's post-assault conduct, she was given one final opportunity to amend if she can do so in good faith.

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