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Case Name Rapuano v. Trustees of Dartmouth College ED-NH-0001
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-01070 ( D.N.H. )
State/Territory New Hampshire
Case Type(s) Education
Special Collection Title IX, Sexual Violence Investigations/Resolutions
Case Summary
On November 15, 2018, seven female students in Dartmouth's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences filed this putative class action suit against the Trustees of Dartmouth College under Title IX and New Hampshire common law in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire. The ... read more >
On November 15, 2018, seven female students in Dartmouth's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences filed this putative class action suit against the Trustees of Dartmouth College under Title IX and New Hampshire common law in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire. The plaintiffs claimed a hostile educational environment, gender discrimination, quid pro quo sexual harassment, and retaliation in violation of Title IX. Additionally, the plaintiff class claimed that the Trustees of Dartmouth College breached their fiduciary duties and negligently supervised and retained professors in violation of New Hampshire common law. The plaintiff class, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief.

Specifically, the plaintiff class claimed that three professors in the Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences leered at, groped, "sexted," intoxicated, and raped female students. The plaintiffs further alleged that though they had contacted Dartmouth’s Title IX office in April 2017, Dartmouth failed to take action. Twenty days after the plaintiffs had contacted Dartmouth’s Title IX office—after Dartmouth’s inaction—one plaintiff was sexually assaulted. At least 27 complainants came forward to participate in the Title IX investigation. Finally, the plaintiffs claimed that when Dartmouth finally did take action by beginning an investigation, it was unilaterally stopped in July and the three professors in question were allowed to resign or retire.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs defined the class as "every current and former female graduate and undergraduate student who has matriculated or will matriculate at Dartmouth in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences between March 31, 2015 and the date of judgment."

The case was assigned to District Judge Landya B. McCafferty.

On May 1, 2019, the plaintiffs filed an amended class action complaint, adding two more Jane Does and their factual allegations to the record. The defendants contested these two additional Jane Does proceeding under pseudonyms, but Judge McCafferty approved the plaintiffs' motions to proceed under pseudonym on January 29, 2020.

The parties quickly moved to settlement negotiations. On September 10, 2019, the parties jointly proposed a settlement agreement.

The parties modified the definition of the class slightly in this settlement agreement. The class include any female undergraduate or graduate student at Dartmouth that satisfies any of the following criteria: were graduate advisors or research assistants of the three former professors in the complaint, were graduate assistants in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department that co-authored at least one paper based on lab research they conducted with the professors or co-authored three papers with the professors without lab work, were graduate students in the Department that do not fall into these categories but can attest to emotional and psychological harm, or undergraduate student research assistants of the three professors.

The parties did not include a specified monetary amount in the settlement agreement. Instead, they wrote that the defendant must pay a base amount of $1,000 for any class member that comes forward, that amount can increase based on an Independent Claim Expert's assessment of the severity of the claims, and that the defendant will pay the plaintiff's attorney fees.

Judge McCafferty preliminarily approved this settlement agreement on September 25, 2019. As of June 17, 2020, she has not granted final approval to the agreement, and notifications to the class are ongoing.

Cianan Lesley - 01/27/2019
Ellen Aldin - 06/17/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Defendant-type
College/University
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action State law
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.
Defendant(s) Trustees
Plaintiff Description Current and former female graduate and undergraduate students who have matriculated or will matriculate at Dartmouth in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences between March 31, 2015 and the date of judgment. The class was granted.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2019 - n/a
Filed 11/15/2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:18-cv-01070 (D.N.H.)
ED-NH-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
ED-NH-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/15/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Class Action Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 28]
ED-NH-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Agreement of Settlement [ECF# 45-1]
ED-NH-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/10/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges McCafferty, Landya B. (D.N.H.) show/hide docs
ED-NH-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Douglas, Charles G III (New Hampshire) show/hide docs
ED-NH-0001-0001 | ED-NH-0001-0002 | ED-NH-0001-9000
Kelly, Steven J (Maryland) show/hide docs
ED-NH-0001-0001 | ED-NH-0001-0002 | ED-NH-0001-0003 | ED-NH-0001-9000
Marcuse, Deborah K (Maryland) show/hide docs
ED-NH-0001-0001 | ED-NH-0001-0002 | ED-NH-0001-0003 | ED-NH-0001-9000
Sanford, David (New York) show/hide docs
ED-NH-0001-0001 | ED-NH-0001-0002 | ED-NH-0001-0003 | ED-NH-0001-9000
Webbert, Austin (Maryland) show/hide docs
ED-NH-0001-0002 | ED-NH-0001-9000
Wiitala, Nicole (New York) show/hide docs
ED-NH-0001-0001 | ED-NH-0001-0002 | ED-NH-0001-0003 | ED-NH-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Iyer, Sandhya (New Hampshire) show/hide docs
ED-NH-0001-0003
Kruzer, Lyndsey M (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
ED-NH-0001-9000
Lukey, Joan A (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
ED-NH-0001-0003 | ED-NH-0001-9000
Wolosz, Justin J (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
ED-NH-0001-0003 | ED-NH-0001-9000

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