United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
Cogburn, Jr. United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on defendants' Motion
for Summary Judgment (#92) and plaintiff's Motion for
Leave to File (#107). The Court held a hearing on August 16,
2017. Having considered the Motions and reviewed the
pleadings, the Court enters the following Order.
case arises out of an allegation of sexual assault at a
public university and later university proceedings related to
that allegation. The facts have been reviewed in prior Orders
of this Court, notably in its Order (#70) entered on
September 6, 2016. Plaintiff alleges that his Due Process
rights were violated and he has suffered a suspension from
school, losing his commission in the Army, and an imminent
blemish on his academic record if he applies to graduate
school. (#100) at 3-4. Put another way, this is a case of a
male student, accused by a fellow student of sexual
misconduct, who argues that a public university's Title
IX system of student discipline violated his constitutional
rights, specifically Due Process. The public university
afforded him two hearings, and he was found responsible for
the alleged sexual assault in each. See (#100) at
2-3. Plaintiff contends that the university violated his
right to procedural Due Process at both hearings and in the
procurement of a “No Contact Order, ” which
prohibited contact between the accusing student and the
plaintiff. (#100) at 11-14.
judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A factual dispute is genuine “if
the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is
material only if it might affect the outcome under governing
law. Id. The movant has the “initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal citations omitted). Once
this initial burden is met, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party. That party “must set forth specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Id. at 322 n.3. The nonmoving party may not rely
upon mere allegations or denials of allegations in his
pleadings to defeat a motion for summary judgment.
Id. at 324. Instead, that party must present
sufficient evidence from which “a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; accord Sylvia Dev.
Corp. v. Calvert Cnty., Md., 48 F.3d 810, 818 (4th Cir.
ruling on a summary judgment motion, a court must view the
evidence and any inferences from the evidence in the light
most favorable to the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 255. “‘Where the record taken as a whole
could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the
nonmoving party, there is no genuine issue for
trial.'” Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557,
586 (2009) (quoting Matsushita v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). The question posed by
a summary judgment motion is whether the evidence “is
so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of
law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.
Procedural Due Process
enrolled in public universities are entitled to due process
protections in disciplinary proceedings. See Bd. of
Curators of Univ. of Missouri v. Horowitz, 435 U.S. 78,
90 (1978). As the Supreme Court put it, “[o]nce it is
determined that due process applies, the question remains
what process is due.” Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S.
565, 577 (1975). Both substantive and procedural due process
protections apply; however, substantive due process claims
are difficult to maintain. Young v. City of Mount
Ranier, 238 F.3d 567, 574 (4th Cir. 2001).
Plaintiff's substantive due process claim was earlier
dismissed. See Order (#70).
plaintiff's remaining claim, procedural due process
requires -- at a minimum --adequate notice of the allegations
presented and an opportunity to be heard before a neutral
decision-maker. See Tanyi v. Appalachian State
Univ., No. 5:14-CV-170RLV, 2015 WL 4478853, at *3 (W.D.
N.C. July 22, 2015). While a full-scale trial is not required
in student disciplinary proceedings, the level of procedural
protections depend on: (1) the nature of the interest
protected; (2) the danger of error and the benefit of
additional or other procedures; and (3) the burden on the
government such procedures would present. Id.
(quotation marks and citation omitted). For the reasons that
follow, the Court finds that determining whether the process
plaintiff was afforded was substantial involves genuine
issues of material fact that are not yet resolved, precluding
11, 2017, a hearing was noticed for August 16, 2017, on
defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. Two days before
the hearing, plaintiff filed his Motion for Leave to File
(#107) additional evidentiary materials, which will be
considered before considering the defendants' motion.
Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File
Motion for Leave to File (#107), plaintiff seeks leave to
submit additional evidentiary materials in opposition to
summary judgment. The materials consist of the transcript of
his own deposition and his responses to interrogatories.
Id. The plaintiff's request would add
approximately 455 pages of additional material to the case
record and defendants did not object within the time allowed.
Under Rule 56(c)(1)(A), the Court will grant the Motion and
will consider the proffered material in the two exhibits
(#107-1) and (#107-2).
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
their Motion for Summary Judgment (#92) and supporting
Memorandum (#94), defendants contend that no genuine issue of
material fact remains for trial and that they are entitled to
entry of judgment as a matter of law. First, defendants
contend that plaintiff's only remaining claims are
brought under Section 1983 and that plaintiff has named no
cognizable state actor or state entity in his Amended
Complaint. Second, defendants assert that even if a state
defendant were named, the Eleventh Amendment bars the suit.
Third, the defendants argue that even if this action is not
barred, the record demonstrates that plaintiff's
procedural due process rights were adequately protected by
the university in the administrative hearings.