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Notre Dame files motion to dismiss four claims in lawsuit

| Monday, June 5, 2017

Notre Dame responded to a lawsuit filed by an unnamed student alleging he was unjustly dismissed from University less than a month before his graduation, according to court documents filed Friday.

The University filed a partial motion to dismiss four of the seven counts of the student’s — referred to in the court documents as “John Doe” — complaints.

The lawsuit alleges Notre Dame mishandled Doe’s case and conducted an investigation full of  “procedural flaws, lack of due process and inherent gender bias, designed to ensure that male students accused of any type of sexual misconduct or harassment — concepts that do not apply to John’s conduct — are found responsible.”

The University’s response seeks to dismiss one count of discrimination in a public accommodation in violation of the American Disabilities Act and one count of violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. According to a brief filed by the University in support of its motion, the University claims these charges should be dismissed for several reasons, including that Doe does not claim his disability “substantially limited any major life activity,” does not allege any facts that “would indicate the University perceived Mr. Doe to be disabled” and provides no facts to show he suffered adverse action because of his disability.

Additionally, the University seeks to dismiss the count of estoppel and reliance because, under Indiana law, “promissory estoppel cannot be established without reasonable reliance on a promise.” Doe, according to the brief filed by the University, has not provided facts that would establish his awareness or reading of du Lac — on which he bases this claim — that motivated his enrollment.

Doe has not alleged that he read du Lac, the brief says, or that he “reviewed the terms on which he claims now the University has not met, that he was ever aware of the terms at the time of enrollment, or that his decision to enroll was at all based on having reviewed or read its language.” The University alleges that by not having been aware of the terms  of du Lac at the time of his enrollment, Doe cannot establish detrimental reliance on those terms, according to the brief.

The University also seeks to dismiss the count of negligent infliction of emotional distress, on the grounds that negligent infliction of emotional distress is not a stand-alone tort claim in the state of Indiana, which are the circumstances of Doe’s complaint. The University argues that Doe does not allege it acted negligently in a manner that “physically touched him, causing him emotional distress; but rather that his emotional distress arises from the University’s allegedly negligent administration of its policies under du Lac,” the brief says. 

By claiming that the impact of the alleged negligence was not physical in nature, the University argues that this count of the complaint is a breach of contract, not a negligent infliction of emotional distress, according to the brief. Indiana does not allow recovery of emotional distress damages for breach of contract, according to the brief.


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