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M.R. v. Stockton University

United States District Court, D. New Jersey, Camden Vicinage

July 31, 2019

M.R., Plaintiff,
v.
STOCKTON UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants. K.S., Plaintiff,
v.
STOCKTON UNIVERSITY, et al., Defendants.

          FUGGI LAW FIRM, P.C. By: Robert R. Fuggi, Jr., Esq.; Jonathan M. Penney, Esq.; Peter S. Pascarella, Esq. Counsel for Plaintiffs M.R. and K.S.

          OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF NEW JERSEY By: Michael R. Sarno, Counsel for Defendant Stockton University

          GREENBAUM, ROWE, SMITH & DAVIS, LLP By: John D. North, Esq.; Jemi Goulian Lucy, Esq.; Irene Hsieh, Esq. Counsel for Defendant Stockton University

          WILSON, ELSER, MOSKOWITZ, EDELMAN & DICKER LLP By: Kurt W. Krauss, Esq.; Susan Karlovich, Esq. Counsel for Defendant Zachary Madle

          THOMAS MASCIOCCHI, ESQ. P.C. By: Thomas G. Masciocchi, Esq. Counsel for Defendant Zachary Madle

          ZARWIN, BAUM, DEVITO, KAPLAN, SCHAER & TODDY, P.C. By: Timothy P. Mullin, Esq. Counsel for Defendant Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, Inc.

          OPINION [18-11431: DKT. NOS. 43, 44] [18-11635: DKT. NOS. 33, 34]

          RENÉE MARIE BUMB UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs M.R. and K.S. (“Plaintiffs”) bring these actions against Defendants Stockton University (“Stockton”), Zachary Madle (“Madle”), and Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, Inc. (“PKP”) (collectively, “Defendants”), alleging that, while they were students at Stockton, they were each sexually assaulted twice by Madle. Specifically, Plaintiff M.R. alleges that Madle sexually assaulted her twice in February 2017 in her Stockton dorm room, and that Madle filmed and posted one of the sexual assaults on Snapchat. Separately, Plaintiff K.S. alleges that Madle sexually assaulted her twice at the Stockton PKP fraternity house in October and November 2017.

         Although filed separately, the Plaintiffs' respective complaints assert the same twenty-three (23) counts, alleging causes of action under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, et seq. (Counts 1-2), Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Counts 3-4), the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (“Clery Act”), 20 U.S.C. § 1092 (Count 5), [1] personal injury tort claims (Counts 6-13), as well as various derivative claims (Counts 14-23). See Plaintiff M.R.'s Complaint (the “M.R. Complaint”) [M.R. Dkt. No. 1]; Plaintiff K.S.'s Complaint (the “K.S. Complaint”) [K.S. Dkt. No. 1].

         This matter now comes before the Court upon Motions to Dismiss, filed by Stockton and PKP (collectively, the “Moving Defendants”)[See M.R. Dkt. Nos. 43, 44; K.S. Dkt. Nos. 33, 34].[2] Although the Court accepts all of Plaintiffs' disturbing allegations as true for purposes of these motions, the Court is constrained by legal precedent mandating dismissal of the claims against the Moving Defendants. For the reasons set forth herein, the Moving Defendants' Motions to Dismiss will be GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' claims against the Moving Defendants will be DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The Court, however, will allow Plaintiffs thirty (30) days to file amended complaints, addressing the deficiencies discussed in this Opinion.[3]

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         In their respective complaints, Plaintiffs describe the grave details of the alleged sexual assaults. As averred, in 2017, Plaintiffs were both first-year students at Stockton, living in university housing, when they were sexually assaulted by Defendant Madle. According to Plaintiffs, Madle had graduated in 2015 from Stockton, where he was a member of PKP. At the time of the incidents described in the complaints, Madle was a bartender at the Flow House in Wildwood, New Jersey.

         A. M.R. v. Stockton

         On the evening of February 9, 2017, Plaintiff M.R. was introduced to Defendant Madle while attending a “invitation only” party, along with her friend K.M., at PKP's off-campus fraternity house in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey. See M.R. Compl. at ¶¶ 13, 17. As PKP did not allow students to bring their own alcohol to the house, Plaintiff M.R. drank “‘Jungle Juice,' a mixture of mostly vodka mixed with Fruit Punch that was provided by the fraternity house.” Id. at ¶¶ 14-15. M.R. left the PKP party on a shuttle bus, accompanied by Defendant Madle and his friend, who both stayed in M.R.'s Stockton dorm room overnight. Id. at ¶ 19.

         The next morning, around 9:30 a.m., “Plaintiff woke up with a sore vagina, and found [] Madle and his friend still in her dormitory room.” See M.R. Compl. at ¶ 20. M.R. states that she was upset that Madle and his friend were still in her room and asked both to leave. Id. at ¶ 21. Although Madle and his friend “insisted that they all get breakfast together, ” they finally left the dorm in an Uber after Plaintiff “made it clear she wanted [Madle] and his friend to leave.” Id. at ¶¶ 21-23. Plaintiff M.R “later learned from K.M. that [] Madle had non-consensual sex with M.R. while she had been incapacitated.” Id. at ¶ 24.

         On February 14, 2017, M.R. texted with Madle “throughout the day getting to know each other.” See M.R. Compl. at ¶ 26. Later that evening, around midnight, Madle came over to M.R.'s dormitory, where she registered Madle as a guest, so he would not get a ticket for parking on campus. Id. at ¶¶ 28, 30. Once in M.R.'s dorm room, Madle showed her that he had brought two bottles of Stoli Vodka, as well as “eight ounce cups and small cans of ice tea and lemonade.” Id. at ¶¶ 29, 31. Using these items, Madle “made and mixed all of the drinks.” Id. While sitting on her bed, M.R. told Madle that “she ‘wanted to remember this time' because it was Valentine's Day, ” to which Madle replied “we'll see.” See M.R. Compl. at ¶ 32. Plaintiff states that she found this comment to be “very odd.” Id.

         M.R. drank about two to three cups of white wine and repeatedly declined Madle's requests that she drink the mixed vodka drink he had prepared for her. Id. at ¶ 33. M.R. alleges that when she left her room to use the bathroom, Madle followed her out into the hallway and waited outside the bathroom stalls. Id. at ¶ 34. However, Plaintiff states that Madle did not follow her out to the hallway the next time she used the bathroom, “which allowed [] Madle the opportunity to spike/drug the Plaintiff's drink.” Id. at ¶ 35.

         Upon returning from the bathroom, Madle turned away while M.R. changed clothing for bed. However, after M.R. was finished changing, Madle “grabbed her hands and pulled her towards him and kissed her, ” then gave M.R. another drink. Plaintiff states that her last memory is of “kissing [Madle] on the edge of her bed before she blacked out as she believed was drugged. [Madle] then took of the Plaintiff's clothing while she was unconscious and sexually assaulted/raped her.” Id. at ¶ 40. While M.R. was unconscious, Madle also “took a video of the sexual assault and rape on the phone app ‘Snapchat'” and “posted the videos of the sexual assault on his Snapchat account.” Id. at ¶ 41. These videos were “available for 24 hours for the public to view.” Id. at ¶ 42.

         The next morning, “Plaintiff woke up naked, confused, choking and covered in vomit.” See M.R. Compl. at ¶ 43. M.R. checked her phone and saw text message from Madle, in which he fabricated a story “that someone tried to break in to the Plaintiff's dormitory and while chasing them away he became locked out of the dormitory.” Id. at ¶ 44. Madle had taken his backpack, but left the alcohol, iced tea cans, and cups. Id. at ¶ 45. While using her phone, Plaintiff came across Madle's “Snapchat stories, ” which included two videos of M.R. “still wearing her bra and panties, but in the last video [M.R.] was completely naked.” Id. at ¶ 46.

         After viewing the videos in Madle's snapchat stories, “M.R. realized she had been sexually assaulted/raped” and began texting her friends for help. See M.R. Compl. at ¶¶ 47, 53. One of M.R.'s friends, B.C., left class, joined M.R. at her dormitory, and reported the sexual assault to Beth Mancuso, M.R.'s Residential Advisor. Id. at ¶ 48. In turn, Mancuso reported the sexual assault to Darius Edwards, an official in Stockton's housing department, who responded to the report, along with an unnamed female Title IX coordinator. Id. at ¶¶ 49-50. The housing department also contacted the Stockton Police Department, which launched an investigation into the sexual assault. Id.

         B.C. drove M.R. to Atlanticare, where a rape kit was performed. See M.R. Compl. at ¶¶ 52, 54. The tests associated with the rape kit matched Madle's DNA and also showed that M.R. had tested positive for Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease that Plaintiff allegedly contracted from Madle. Id. at ΒΆΒΆ 56-57. Plaintiff states ...


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