Over six hundred lawsuits have been filed against colleges and universities in behalf of students accused of Title IX-related offenses. These numbers come from Title IX For All, an organization dedicated to tracking such lawsuits since 2013. The current count in their Title IX Legal Database, a clearinghouse of information on these cases aimed at assisting Title IX professionals and accused students, is 621.
Title IX-related offenses includes such offenses as sexual misconduct (including harassment, assault, and exploitation), dating violence (including threats of violence), and stalking. Litigants in these cases – 98% of whom are male – frequently content that universities deny accused students due process, act with gender bias, defame respondents, and breach contracts with students, among other claims. The wave of litigation was sparked in 2011 by a Department of Education guidance letter intended to spur educational institutions to respond more aggressively in behalf of reporting parties.
This announcement comes as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ long-anticipated Title IX regulations aimed at overhauling the balance of rights between complainants and respondents in Title IX matters have cleared the Office of Management and Budget, the final stage before new regulations are published.
Nearly half of all the lawsuits– 47.5% – have been filed in a mere five states: California (18%), New York (12%), Ohio (7.5%), Pennsylvania (5.5%), and Massachusetts (4.5%). Schools facing a disproportionately high number of lawsuits include the UC and CSU systems in California, which has faced numerous lawsuits via writs of mandate, and schools in New York such as the SUNY system, Columbia, and Cornell.
Two legal teams – Andrew Miltenberg and his team at Nesenoff & Miltenberg and Mark Hathaway and Jenna Parker of Hathaway Parker – have litigated ~25% of the total number of lawsuits. The rest have been litigated by a spread of 610 attorneys representing plaintiffs and 744 attorneys representing schools and school personnel. Regarding court and judge data, we have seen litigation in 192 courts (86 federal courts and 106 state courts), with 622 judges (429 male and 193 female) presiding over litigation.
On average, 120 lawsuits have been filed each year from 2017-2019. New lawsuit filings have declined in March due to COVID-19 but are anticipated to rise significantly when students return back to school in large numbers and DeVos’ new Title IX regulations are in full effect.