KNOXVILLE — A federal judge has dismissed one of dozens of claims in a Title IX lawsuit filed against Tennessee while denying the rest of the school's motion to dismiss.
The school filed a motion in March to dismiss and strike portions of the complaint, which includes eight unidentified women as plaintiffs and said Tennessee violated Title IX regulations through a policy of indifference toward assaults by athletes. U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger ruled Tuesday that one claim was "dismissed without prejudice," but she allowed the rest of the case to proceed and didn't strike any other portions of the complaint.
"We appreciate the judge's consideration of dismissal of certain issues with this case especially in light of the case's difficult nature as it involves the lives and well-being of young people," Bill Ramsey, the school's lawyer, said in a statement. "Under the standard for a motion to dismiss, the Court was required to accept the allegations in the complaint as true for purposes of ruling on the motion. We maintain our position that the allegations put forth in the lawsuit regarding the university are unfounded and without merit. We are confident that once all of the facts are considered instead of only the allegations in the complaint, plaintiffs will be unable to prove their claims."
David Randolph Smith, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, declined comment.
The claim that was dismissed involved a woman who said she was sexually assaulted on February 2013. Tennessee's lawyers noted that's "almost three years prior to the filing of the original complaint" and that the claim therefore "is barred by the applicable one-year statute of limitations."
Although Trauger dropped one of the complaints made by that particular plaintiff, the judge allowed that woman's complaint regarding the school's response to that 2013 incident to remain in the lawsuit.
Trauger's ruling said that "what this means, as a practical matter, is that (the plaintiff) will not be able to recover damages from UT to compensate her for the injury of her actual assault, though she may be able to recover compensatory damages arising from UT's response to her report of the assault and actions taken in the aftermath that caused her further injury."
The lawsuit was filed Feb. 9 in Nashville by six unidentified women. Two more women were added as plaintiffs two weeks later.
Their complaint states that Tennessee's policies made students more vulnerable to sexual assault and says that the school had a "clearly unreasonable response" after incidents that caused the women making complaints to endure additional harassment. The suit also states the university interfered with the disciplinary process to favor male athletes.