Miltenberg: “Attorneys: 3rd Circ. Ruling on Title IX Liability for Non-Students’ Actions `A Wakeup Call For Universities’,”


Attorneys whose practices focus on representing parties in Title IX investigations said the Third Circuit’s recent ruling against Millersville University potentially makes it more difficult for institutions of higher learning to cast off responsibility for sexual misconduct that occurs on their campuses. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held for the first time in a Jan. 11 opinion in Hall v. Millersville University that colleges and universities can face liability under Title IX for the actions of a non-student guest. The three judge panel unanimously reversed the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s grant of summary judgment to Millersville University and remanded for further proceedings … The Third Circuit said the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1999 ruling in Davis u. Monroe County Board of Education “made clear… that a funding recipient may be liable for acts of sexual harassment by individuals other than students” Hamill said the Millersville decision reinforces the need for colleges and universities to be sensitized to the issue of sexual assault and domestic violence … Changes or amendments to Title IX have developed in the recent decade as an increasing number of cases continue to populate the courts. The biggest changes, Hamill said, have been regulatory more so than case law. Still, the Third Circuit’s Millersville ruling potentially ratchets up the pressure on institutions to be more vigilant about sexual misconduct on their campuses and taking more proactive measures to prevent it, such as stepping up policing or limiting access to dormitories, libraries and campus facilities, attorney Andrew T. Miltenberg said. “I think that’s what may happen: that students are going to have to assume a greater responsibility, and the school is going to have a greater responsibility,” Miltenberg said. “But at some point, how much responsibility do [schools] have?”

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