Jane Doe, (originally named as John Doe individually and as a parent and next friend to Jane Doe, a minor) Plaintiff - Appellant
Dardanelle School District Defendant-Appellee
Submitted: April 18, 2019
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Arkansas - Little Rock
COLLOTON, GRUENDER, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
GRUENDER, CIRCUIT JUDGE
Doe appeals the district court's grant of Dardanelle School
District's ("Dardanelle") motion for summary
judgment and its partial denial of her motion for leave to
amend her complaint. We affirm.
Doe was a student at Dardanelle, she claims that another
student, R.C., sexually assaulted her at least twice. The
first incident took place in October 2014 during a kickball
game. While running the bases, R.C. ran into Doe, who was
standing on second base. Doe testified that R.C.'s upper
arm "bump[ed]" her breast and that he called her a
bitch. Doe said she did not know why R.C. called her a bitch
but that she may have been "blocking his way" and
that the comment may have been "out of
second incident took place in October 2015. Doe and R.C. were
seated next to each other while watching a movie with the
lights off in a home economics class. Doe testified that R.C.
reached up her shorts and touched the outside of her
"private parts." After Doe pushed him away, R.C.
attempted to force Doe to touch his groin. Doe pulled her arm
away, and R.C. "grabbed" Doe's breast over her
shirt. Doe testified that nobody else at the table at which
she and R.C. sat saw or heard what happened.
reported both incidents to Dardanelle administrators, who
discussed them with R.C. Alleging that Dardanelle was
deliberately indifferent, Doe filed a complaint under 20
U.S.C. § 1681 et seq. ("Title IX")
and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in May 2017. Doe later moved to
amend the complaint, and the district court denied her motion
in part. Dardanelle moved for summary judgment, and the
district court granted its motion. Doe appeals both orders.
review a grant of summary judgment de novo,
considering the facts "in the light most favorable to
the nonmoving party." Hiland Partners GP Holdings,
LLC v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh,
PA, 847 F.3d 594, 597 (8th Cir. 2017). A motion for
summary judgment will be granted where "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). "Only disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will
properly preclude the entry of summary judgment."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
district court explained that Title IX and § 1983 have
the same deliberate indifference standard and concluded that
Dardanelle was not deliberately indifferent.It reasoned that
the first incident did not put Dardanelle on notice that R.C.
might sexually assault Doe and that though Dardanelle might
have taken more "prudent" steps after the second
incident, it is not liable for "failing to take the most
reasonable course of action or even for responding
negligently." Doe v. Dardanelle School
District, No. 4:17cv00359, 2018 WL 3795235, at *4 (E.D.
Ark. Aug. 9, 2018). It additionally observed that even if
Dardanelle were deliberately indifferent, the harassment was
not "so severe, pervasive, and objectively
offensive" that it deprived Doe "of access to the
educational opportunities or benefits provided by the
school." Id. (quoting Davis, 526 U.S.
at 650). The district court therefore granted
Dardanelle's motion for summary judgment.
indifference is a stringent standard of fault that cannot be
predicated upon mere negligence." Doe v.
Flaherty, 623 F.3d 577, 584 (8th Cir. 2010) (internal
quotation marks and citation omitted). Under Title IX,
Dardanelle is liable only if its "deliberate
indifference effectively 'cause[d]' the
discrimination." Davis, 526 U.S. at 642-43
(alteration in original). We "should refrain from
second-guessing the disciplinary decisions made by school
administrators." Id. at 648. Summary judgment
is proper unless Dardanelle was "clearly unreasonable in
light of the known circumstances." Id. at
Doe claims that Dardanelle was deliberately indifferent
because it had "received at least one other report from
a second student, T.R., complaining that R.C. had attempted
to touch her inappropriately." R.C. said that he
sometimes hit T.R. on the arm. Vice Principal Lynn Balloun
discussed T.R.'s complaint with R.C., who promised that
he would stop. The record does not indicate when T.R. made
the complaint. Even if we assume the complaint came before
the first incident with Doe as she claims, we cannot say that
Dardanelle's response to the complaint "effectively
caused" the first incident with Doe. See Davis,
526 U.S. at 642.
next argues that Dardanelle's "inaction in the face
of" the first incident involving Doe "led to the
second, more severe assault." But Dardanelle did take
action after the first incident. Doe reported the first
incident to a teacher and to Principal Marcia Lawrence. In
response, Balloun and Counselor Cynthia Hutchins discussed
the incident with R.C. Both Balloun and Hutchins
"sternly" talked to R.C. "about proper
Balloun's notes from his discussion with R.C. after the
first incident indicate that he believed R.C. had touched Doe
several times, Doe testified in deposition and without
reservation that R.C. had never touched her before the
kickball incident. She also testified that, according to her
memory of the 2014 school year, there was only one incident
when R.C. touched her. Accepting Doe's statement is not a
"failure to apply the proper summary judgment
standard," as Doe contends. Rather, the unambiguous
testimony of the only witness with firsthand knowledge
demonstrates that there is no genuine dispute of fact.