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Doe v. Indiana University Bloomington

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

December 12, 2016

JANE DOE N0. 62, Plaintiff,
v.
INDIANA UNIVERSITY BLOOMINGTON, BETA ALPHA SHELTER OF DELTA TAU DELTA FRATERNITY, INC., DELTA TAU DELTA NATIONAL FRATERNITY, DELTA TAU DELTA BETA ALPHA CHAPTER, Defendants.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Jane Doe No. 62[1] (“Ms. Doe”) has filed a Complaint against various Defendants, asserting claims stemming from a sexual assault perpetrated by an Indiana University student while Ms. Doe was at a party at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house. [Filing No. 29.] Defendants Delta Tau Delta National Fraternity (“DTD National”) and Beta Alpha Shelter of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, Inc. (“DTD Shelter”), have filed a Motion to Dismiss Ms. Doe's claims against them. [Filing No. 33.] For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the pending Motion to Dismiss. [Filing No. 32.]

         I.

         Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) “requires only ‘a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.'” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 8(a)(2)). “Specific facts are not necessary, the statement need only ‘give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'” Erickson, 551 U.S. at 93 (quoting Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         A motion to dismiss asks whether the complaint “contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). In reviewing the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pled facts as true and draw all permissible inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See Active Disposal, Inc. v. City of Darien, 635 F.3d 883, 886 (7th Cir. 2011). The Court will not accept legal conclusions or conclusory allegations as sufficient to state a claim for relief. See McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 617 (7th Cir. 2011). Factual allegations must plausibly state an entitlement to relief “to a degree that rises above the speculative level.” Munson v. Gaetz, 673 F.3d 630, 633 (7th Cir. 2012). This plausibility determination is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” Id.

         II.

         Relevant Background

         The relevant background is set forth from the allegations of Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, [Filing No. 29], which the Court must accept as true pursuant to the applicable standard of review at this stage of the proceedings. The Court emphasizes that these allegations are considered to be true only for purposes of deciding the pending motion.

         Ms. Doe and John Enochs were both students at Indiana University Bloomington (“IU”). [Filing No. 29 at 3.] Mr. Enochs was a member of the Beta Alpha chapter of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity at IU (the “DTD Chapter”).[2] [Filing No. 29 at 3.] DTD National is the controlling body that “owns, controls, operates, and provides policies and rules for the DTD Chapter.” [Filing No. 29 at 3.] Members of the DTD Chapter live together in a fraternity house on IU's campus (the “House”). DTD Shelter is a non-profit corporation that “owns, manages, operates, and maintains the DTD House.” [Filing No. 29 at 3.]

         On or about October 2013, a female IU student the parties identify as M.S. alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Mr. Enochs at the House after Mr. Enochs supplied her with alcohol, despite M.S. being under the legal drinking age. [Filing No. 29 at 5.] M.S. reported the sexual assault to IU's police department. [Filing No. 29 at 5.]

         DTD National and DTD Shelter were aware of the alleged assault by Mr. Enochs against M.S. [Filing No. 29 at 6.] DTD National was also aware of other sexual assaults at fraternity houses at IU and “multiple previous allegations of sexual assault specifically at the DTD Chapter.” [Filing No. 29 at 4.] DTD National continued to allow the DTD Chapter to remain at IU and chose not to exercise its power to suspend or revoke the DTD Chapter's charter. [Filing No. 29 at 5.] Likewise, DTD Shelter chose not to exercise its power to remove members from the House, close it, or prohibit the DTD Chapter from throwing parties. [Filing No. 29 at 5.]

         On April 11, 2015, Ms. Doe was at a party hosted by the DTD Chapter at the House. [Filing No. 29 at 7.] Although she was under the legal drinking age, she was encouraged to drink large amounts of alcohol. [Filing No. 29 at 7.] DTD National and DTD Shelter were aware that members encouraged women to consume large amounts of alcohol at parties at the House. [Filing No. 29 at 7.] Despite M.S.'s prior accusation that Mr. Enochs had sexually assaulted her, DTD National “chose not to exercise its power to prevent the party from taking place or prevent Enochs from attending the party” where Ms. Doe was present. [Filing No. 29 at 8.] After drinking alcohol at the House, Ms. Doe “passed out and then awakened to Enochs sexually assaulting her in a room in the DTD House.” [Filing No. 29 at 8.] As a result of the sexual assault, Ms. Doe has suffered and continues to suffer from physical, mental, and emotional anguish. [Filing No. 29 at 8.]

         On June 16, 2016, Ms. Doe filed a lawsuit in this Court. [Filing No. 1.] In relevant part for purposes of the pending motion, Ms. Doe's operative Complaint asserts negligence claims against DTD National regarding its allegedly negligent “retention and supervision” of Mr. Enochs and the DTD Chapter and a premises liability claim against DTD Shelter.[3][Filing No. 29 at 11-16.] DTD National and DTD Shelter have moved to dismiss these claims, [Filing No. 32], ...


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