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Constitutional – Due Process – Sexual Assault Allegation – University Proceedings – Eleventh Amendment

Painter v. Adams (Lawyers Weekly No. 004-026-17, 15 pp.) (Max Cogburn Jr., J.) 3:15-cv-00369; W.D.N.C.

Holding: Even though the Eleventh Amendment bars any damages claims plaintiff may have against the defendant-public university arising out the university’s student disciplinary proceedings in which plaintiff was found responsible for sexual assault, plaintiff’s claim for expungement relates to an ongoing alleged violation of federal law, and the relief he seeks would be prospective. Eleventh Amendment immunity does not bar such a claim.

The court grants plaintiff’s unopposed motion to amend his complaint. Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted as to any claim for retrospective relief or damages but denied insofar as plaintiff seeks prospective or injunctive relief.

Even though plaintiff was allowed to examine his accuser about the content of certain text messages at the disciplinary hearing, he was not allowed to submit the actual texts to the tribunal. This raises a genuine issue of material fact as to whether plaintiff was denied due process and the right to have a record of the hearing reviewed by a student appellate body.

Although states (and their public universities) waive Eleventh Amendment immunity by accepting federal funding under Title XI, such waiver applies only to alleged violations of § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and any other federal statute prohibiting discrimination by recipients of federal financial assistance. Plaintiff’s claims are brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Congress has not abrogated states’ Eleventh Amendment immunity from such suits.

Motions granted in part and denied in part.

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