Monday, November 11, 2013

Doe v. Gonzaga University case brief

Doe v. Gonzaga University case brief summary
24 P.3d 390 (Wash. 2001)

Petitioner student appealed a court of appeals decision reversing the jury's award of damages entered in the Superior Court, Spokane County (Washington). The damages were based on claims of defamation, negligence, invasion of privacy, violation of petitioner's rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), and breach of contract.


While petitioner was an education student, he had a sexually intimate relationship with a female student. Respondents (another student, teachers, and university) alleged that petitioner had date raped the female student. Petitioner sued respondents and was awarded damages.


  • The court of appeals reversed the negligence, invasion of privacy, 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983, and breach of contract awards and remanded for a new trial on the defamation claim. 
  • The court of appeals also held the trial court abused its discretion in failing to impose sanctions against respondent university for discovery abuse. 
  • The supreme court held that the jury was properly instructed, and that there was substantial evidence to sustain the jury's verdict on the defamation, invasion of privacy, violation of FERPA, and breach of contract claims. 
  • Because respondent university had no duty to investigate allegations against petitioner, there was no cognizable claim for negligence.
The rulings dismissing the negligence claim and remanding the case to the trial court was affirmed. The supplemental judgment for attorney fees and costs was reinstated, and petitioner was awarded reasonable appellate attorney fees and expenses.

Suggested Study Aids For Tort Law

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