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Doe v. Columbia College Chicago

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

January 22, 2018

JOHN DOE, Plaintiff,
COLUMBIA COLLEGE CHICAGO, et. al., Defendants.



         On November 7, 2017, Plaintiff John Doe (“Doe”) brought the present Amended Complaint against Defendants Jane Roe and Columbia College Chicago (“CCC”), collectively “Defendants, ” in which he added a breach of contract claim against CCC to his previous claims. Before the Court is CCC's motion to dismiss the breach of contract claim brought pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Court grants CCC's motion to dismiss.


         This case arises from an alleged sexual assault that occurred at CCC and the discipline that resulted from that alleged assault. Plaintiff and Defendant Roe were both students at CCC in 2015, and after they had a sexual interaction on December 11, 2015, Roe accused Plaintiff of sexually assaulting her when she was incapacitated by alcohol. (R. 1, Compl. ¶¶ 4, 22-23.) CCC then suspended Plaintiff for the 2016-17 academic year-a decision Plaintiff claims was wrongful. (Id. ¶ 23.) Doe alleges that CCC violated its own policies by failing to adequately address his complaints of harassment and by suspending him without sufficient evidence of misconduct.

         In considering this motion, the Court presumes familiarity with the background of this action as set forth in its previous order and does not recite a detailed background here. The Court will provide a brief factual and procedural background focusing on the allegations relevant to Doe's breach of contract claim.

         I. Procedural Background

         On October 25, 2017, the Court dismissed all Doe's claims against CCC. (R. 47, October 25, 2017 Opinion.) The Court dismissed Doe's Title IX claims largely because Doe failed to allege that any harassment or discrimination he suffered was gender-based and because he failed to allege that CCC treated similarly situated individuals differently than him. (Id.) The Court dismissed Doe's promissory estoppel claim finding that the language in CCC's policies did not constitute the type of unambiguous promise required to support such a claim. (Id.) The Court also dismissed Doe's other Illinois common law claims. (Id.) Although the Court gave Doe leave to amend these claims, Doe has included the exact claims the Court dismissed without adding new allegations to attempt to cure the defects in his original claims. Accordingly, these claims remain dismissed.

         In his Amended Complaint, Doe only adds one new claim-a breach of contract claim in Count XI. (R. 50, Am. Compl. ¶¶ 209-13.) CCC now moves to dismiss this claim.

         II. The Incident and CCC's Investigation

         In February 2016, Roe filed a complaint with CCC alleging that Doe sexually assaulted Roe on December 11, 2015 when she was incapacitated by alcohol. (Id. ¶ 4.) In her complaint, Roe alleged that, without consent, Doe kissed her, disrobed her, touched her genital area and rear end, put Roe's hand on his genital area, and physically prevented her from leaving the room. (Id., Ex. A1 28.)[1] On February 3, 2016, Sarah Shaaban, CCC's assigned investigator, met with Doe to discuss Roe's allegations, and at that initial meeting, Doe did not identify any witnesses or additional evidence. (Id. 29.) Shaaban created an intake form after this meeting, and the form indicates that Doe and Roe met in fall 2015 and began texting casually. (Id. 129.) The form also indicates that Doe took LSD on December 11, before his encounter with Roe. (Id. 130.) In the meeting, Doe told Shaaban that he and Roe engaged in consensual oral sex and kissing, and that she texted him the next day indicating that she had a good time. (Id.) Shabaan also met with Roe and created an intake form after this meeting, which states that Roe told Shabaan that Doe had engaged in sexual conduct with Roe while she was incapacitated. (Id. 133.)

         On February 26, 2016, Doe met with Beverly Anderson, CCC's Title IX Coordinator, who informed him that she had determined that, under CCC's Student Sexual Misconduct Policy & Procedures (“SMP”), she believed a hearing was necessary. (Id. 15, 17.) Doe responded with a letter on March 13, 2016, in which he indicated that any allegations of sexual misconduct were false and informed Anderson that Roe and her friends had defamed him and physically assaulted him. (Id. 1; Am. Compl. ¶¶ 8-15, 28.) Doe alleges that he promptly reported the physical assault to security. (Id. ¶ 30.) CCC Assistant General Counsel Adam Weiss responded to Doe's letter and asked Doe to provide him with the names of the individuals who assaulted him and posted about him on social media. (Ex. A119.) Doe did not provide those names, and instead, indicated that he had already provided those names to a CCC security guard, Marco, who explained that he was already aware of allegations against Doe. (Id. 22.) Doe requested that CCC provide any information it had collected about the defamation and assault incidents. (Id.)

         In response, Anderson requested to meet with Doe, and he declined to do so without representation. (Id. 23-24.) On March 29, 2016, Anderson replied that Doe could bring a support person pursuant to the SMP. (Id. 25.) Doe responded that he would prefer to discuss the matter over email, and noted that Roe's friends “flipped [him] off” on campus. (Id. 26.) Anderson responded that she would “look into” that incident. (Id. 27.) On April 8, 2016, Doe sent CCC a social media post that stated: “@coolandcozy one of my best friends punched [Doe] in the face. [I]t was immediately reported to the police and the dean. Isn't that cute.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 31.) On April 8, 2016, CCC Associate Dean Wilson-Taylor responded to Doe in a letter stating that CCC was not able to initially identify the student, but that CCC had addressed the issue with the female student and asking Doe to inform him if the student interacted with him at all. (Id. ¶ 32.) Ron Sodini, Associate VP for Campus Safety, also contacted Doe and met with him on April 14 and April 18 to address his concerns. (Ex. A1 54, 56.)

         On or about April 22, 2016, Doe informed CCC that a CCC student texted Doe's then girlfriend, who is now his wife, and told her he was a “rapist” who was “lucky he has his teeth.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 40.) On April 25, 2016, CCC sent Doe a letter informing him that CCC had spoken to the student and told him not to have any contact with Doe or his wife. (Id. ¶ 41.) CCC also contacted Doe's step-mother to inform her that CCC was addressing the issues with Doe. (Ex. A1 72-73.) Despite these communications, Doe alleges that CCC refused to accommodate Doe's wife when she wanted to be in a different class than Roe after Roe threated to fight her on social media. (Id.) Doe alleges that these interactions are evidence of CCC's repeated refusal to discipline students who were engaging in retaliation in violation of Title IX. (Id. ¶¶ 42-43.)

         III. CCC's Disciplinary Proceeding

         Doe claims that he repeatedly put CCC on notice that its disciplinary proceeding violated its own policies. (Id. ¶ 45.) In a March 13 letter, for example, Doe informed CCC of the following violations, among others:

• SMP § XIV(C)(1) - “the Coordinator . . . shall serve . . . the Respondent with written notification than an Actionable claim has been filed, a description of the type of Sexual Misconduct alleged . . ., and the investigator's name.”
• SMP § XIV(C)(2) - “the Coordinator shall meet . . . the Respondent to apprise [him] of [his] rights under this Policy and to . . . provide . . . notice of the types of information that likely will ...

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