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Louis Tafuto Iii v. New Jersey Institute of Technology

July 25, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Peter G. Sheridan, U.S.D.J.



This matter comes before this Court on Defendants New Jersey Institute of Technology, et. al.'s ("Defendants") motion to dismiss ("Defendants' Motion to Dismiss"). On or about May 6, 2011, Plaintiff Louis Tafuto III ("Plaintiff") filed an amended complaint ("Plaintiff's Amended Complaint"). Plaintiff alleges three causes of action in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint: (1) sexual discrimination in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX"); (2) sexual harassment in violation of Title IX; and (3) a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. On or about June 13, 2011, Defendants filed Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons set forth below, this Court grants Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.


The Court writes for the parties' benefit and therefore offers only a brief recitation of the facts critical to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. In the fall of 2009, Plaintiff, a New York resident, was a student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology ("NJIT") School of Architecture. NJIT, a public university in New Jersey, is a recipient of federal financial assistance. At the time of the incidents relevant to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, Plaintiff was a 21 year-old male whose gender expression allegedly did not conform to male stereotypes.

Plaintiff contends that during the fall of 2009, Plaintiff's architectural design and drawing classmates subjected Plaintiff to sexual harassment on a regular basis. For example, Plaintiff alleges that these classmates wrote derogatory slurs in Plaintiff's notebook and made an offensive sign that referenced Plaintiff. Moreover, Plaintiff alleges that "[t]he NJIT Professors for the Architectural and Design Classes were present and aware of the misconduct of the students."

On November 10, 2009, Plaintiff was discussing the sexually hostile and dangerous behavior of his classmates with another classmate when he remarked that he wanted to "kill" some of the harassing classmates. Another classmate, who was not a participant in the conversation, reported the comment via e-mail to a professor. The professor forwarded the e-mail to the Dean of Students.

On November 11, 2009, Plaintiff was removed from class and taken to NJIT police headquarters. Plaintiff was subsequently questioned by a NJIT psychologist and the Dean of Students. Plaintiff told the Dean of Students about the allegedly "abusive, sexually explicit, aggressive and destructive behavior" to which Plaintiff was subjected.

On November 12, 2009, the Dean of Students informed Plaintiff that he was obligated to undertake a psychological risk assessment before Plaintiff would be allowed traditional access to campus. Plaintiff has refused to undergo this psychological risk assessment. As such, Plaintiff contends that he has been denied opportunities to participate in class, exam review sessions, architectural critiques, standard final exam environments, and other class activities and, as a result, Plaintiff's grades have suffered.


When evaluating a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court must accept as true all allegations in the pleading and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and must view such allegations and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1949-50 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007); Oshiver v. Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, 38 F.3d 1380, 1384 (3d Cir. 1994). A cause of action should be dismissed only if the alleged facts, taken as true, fail to state a claim. See Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1950.

While a court will accept well-plead allegations as true for the purposes of the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a court will not accept bald assertions, unsupported conclusions, unwarranted inferences, or sweeping legal conclusions cast in the form of factual allegations. See Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949; Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir.1997). On the contrary, "[t]he pleader is required to 'set forth sufficient information to outline the elements of [its] claim or to permit inferences to be drawn that these elements exist.'" Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (citation omitted). A party must set forth "more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation." Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1949 (citation omitted).


Defendants move to dismiss all three causes of action that Plaintiff sets forth in ...

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