Miltenberg: “Suit Seeks to Protect Students Accused of Sexual Assault,” Inside Higher Ed


A lawyer is seeking class-action status for a lawsuit on behalf of college students who want the right to question their accusers. In a groundbreaking move, the first-ever prospective class-action lawsuit that would benefit students accused of sexual assault has been filed against a university, potentially reversing the outcomes of dozens of sexual violence cases. Experts say the suit against Michigan State University is a clever legal maneuver that takes advantage of a significant ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judges determined in September 2018 that students accused of sexual assault, or their representatives, had a right to directly question their accuser, which legal experts said would reshape the notion of due process in these cases … The lawsuit was filed by a male student, who is anonymous in the court filings and referred to as John Doe. He was accused of sexually assaulting his date to a fraternity party in February 2018. He sued Michigan State in December 2018 … Andrew Miltenberg, the lawyer representing the accused student, amended the complaint this month and requested class-action status. The court would need to be persuaded that enough current or former students accused of sexual misconduct may have been denied due process to justify them as a class. Michigan State could also request that the case not be classified as a class action … Miltenberg, a managing partner at Nesenoff & Miltenberg, said his client is not asking for monetary damages, but rather that sanctions imposed on these students be reversed. Several Michigan State students have approached his firm about flaws they perceived in their Title IX cases and problems with the university’s processes, he said. After researching the number of potential accused students and after the Sixth Circuit decision in September, Miltenberg said he believed the class action was possible. Miltenberg said he believes “several hundred” current and former students could be affected … Miltenberg said he believes he will win the lawsuit and if he does, he hopes it would pave the way for similar class actions in other jurisdictions. “We need a much more transparent, fair and equitable system that gives everybody the chance to be heard completely,” Miltenberg said.

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