Renne Public Law Group achieved dismissal of a case against officials in the California State University System in February 2020 on the grounds of qualified immunity.
After a graduate student in the California State University system (CSU) was accused of sexual harassment, the student filed a complaint arguing that CSU violated her Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process. Although cleared of the sexual harassment accusation, the plaintiff stated that the Title IX process and investigation took too long and affected her interest in continued enrollment at CSU, as well as her academic reputation and freedom to pursue her chosen career.
The RPLG team, led by Founding Partner Art Hartinger and Senior Associate Ian Long, filed a motion to dismiss based on qualified immunity. This doctrine shields government officials from lawsuits based on actions performed within their official capacity when those actions do not violate clearly established federal law or constitutional rights. RPLG contended that the law surrounding due process rights in post-secondary education sexual harassment investigations—especially those that had ended in a finding of no violation–had not been clearly established, and the district court agreed.
“The complaint was dismissed in large part because this area of law is unsettled,” noted Mr. Long. “Unlike the Constitutional right to education at the K-12 level, the right to a secondary education is unresolved.”
RPLG practices throughout California, advising and advocating for public agencies, nonprofit entities, individuals and private entities in need of effective, responsible and creative legal solutions.