Court Allows Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against KU To Go Forward

Jul 28, 2017

A former University of Kansas student who alleges she was raped in a college dorm can proceed with her lawsuit against the university, a federal judge has decided.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten on Thursday ruled that the dismissal of a separate class action lawsuit against KU over sexual assaults on campus did not preclude Daisy Tackett’s individual lawsuit against the university.

KU had moved to dismiss Tackett’s lawsuit, arguing she was trying to re-litigate issues that had been raised in the class action case. Marten disagreed and denied KU’s motion.

A KU spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Tackett, a varsity rower at KU before she withdrew from the school last year, filed her lawsuit in March 2016, 10 days after her parents filed the class action case under the Kansas consumer fraud statute.

The class action alleged that KU falsely advertised to students and their families that the school’s dormitories were safe. A state court judge dismissed it after finding that the parents were not consumers under the Kansas statute because the students, not the parents, had signed the housing contracts with KU. And the judge ruled that the students had since left KU and were therefore not subject to injury.

Tackett’s individual lawsuit seeks damages for violations of Title IX, the federal law barring sex discrimination in education. Tackett originally filed the case in state court, but KU transferred it to federal court.

Tackett’s suit originally alleged that KU was deliberately indifferent to her reports of harassment and retaliated against her after she reported that she was raped by a football player in Jayhawker Towers in the fall of 2014. It also alleged that KU created a hostile environment by housing KU football players in Jayhawker Towers, which it had reason to know was unsafe.

In February, Marten dismissed Tackett’s hostile environment claim but allowed her to proceed with her other claims.

KU then sought the suit’s dismissal under a legal doctrine known as res judicata, which bars re-litigation of claims that have been the subject of a final decision on the merits.

Marten on Thursday essentially found that the state court’s dismissal of the class action was not a decision on the merits because it was based on the parents’ lack of standing to sue.

“We expected to win this motion and we look forward to a robust investigation of how KU handled the conduct of its rowing coach,” Tackett’s attorney, Dan Curry, said in an email.

After she reported being raped, Tackett says the rowing coach retaliated against her by informing her she couldn’t attend a training trip in Florida.

Another former KU rower has also sued KU, alleging she was sexually assaulted in August 2015 by the same football player. The football player has since been identified as Jordan Goldenberg Jr., a former KU long snapper.

The plaintiff in that lawsuit, referred to as Jane Doe 7, has since identified herself as Sarah McClure. Like Tackett, McClure is represented by Dan Curry.

As happened with Tackett’s lawsuit, Marten dismissed her hostile environment claim but allowed her indifference and retaliation claims to proceed.

Dan Margolies is KCUR’s health editor. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.