United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
W. HEAD, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
David Gudgel sued Defendant Del Mar College under Title IX,
20 U.S.C. § 1681(a), for claims of discrimination and
retaliation. Before the Court is Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
Gudgel is a former student in the nursing program at Del Mar
College, a community college in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Shortly after beginning classes in the fall of 2014,
Plaintiff was involved in multiple instances of
unprofessional conduct, including engaging in disruptive
behavior during several classes. Plaintiff repeatedly talked
out during class and interrupted a conversation between
another student and a professor by standing between them and
"danc[ing] back and forth.. .like he was a boxer."
(D.E. 35-1, Page 33). Natashia Reyes, a fellow student, filed
a complaint of Plaintiff s offensive and inappropriate
conduct to her and other students. According to Reyes,
Plaintiff made repeated sexual comments and made a gesture
indicating an oral sex act (D.E. 35-1, Page 35). These
incidents were brought to the attention of Dr. Evangeline
DeLeon, the Chair of the Nurse Education Department. Dr.
DeLeon and Beverly Cage, the Director of Student Leadership
and Campus Life, conducted an investigation which
corroborated Reyes' allegations.
affidavit in support of Defendant's motion for summary
judgment, Dr. DeLeon stated she "determined that Mr.
Gudgel had violated the College's policies and rules on
student and professional conduct, and, given his ongoing
behavior in class and comments made by his fellow students,
did not have the good professional character required of the
nursing profession....As a result, I determined the
appropriate course of action was to dismiss Mr. Gudgel from
the nursing program." (D.E. 35-1, Page 4).
Defendant's Department of Nurse Education Student
Handbook mandates that students are expected to act according
to generally accepted standards of nursing practice, and that
"the lack of good professional character as evidenced by
a single incident or an integrated pattern" of
unprofessional conduct is grounds for dismissal from the
program. (D.E. 35-1, Pages 11-12). Plaintiff signed an
agreement which stated that he read the Handbook and agreed
to abide by its policies, and understood that failure to do
so may result in dismissal. (D.E. 35-1, Page 9). On October
2, 2014, Dr. DeLeon met with Plaintiff and informed him of
his dismissal from the nursing program for his unprofessional
behavior contrary to the program's policies by which he
agreed to abide.
October 9, 2014, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the school
alleging that his dismissal constituted gender discrimination
and a letter stating his intent to appeal. Plaintiff was
subsequently reinstated to the nursing program pending a
disciplinary proceeding regarding his actions. Plaintiff
alleges that Dr. DeLeon told him on his return to Del Mar
College that Defendant was going to "get rid of him
"the proper way" and that when he returned to
classes, he faced a hostile environment where professors were
"gunning" for him. On October 28, 2014, Plaintiff
voluntarily withdrew from the program and withdrew his appeal
in exchange for a letter of good standing from Defendant so
that he could apply to nursing programs at other colleges.
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on October 24, 2016.
moves for summary judgment on the grounds that Plaintiffs
claims are barred by the statute of limitations. For Title IX
claims, this Court uses Texas' personal injury statute of
limitations of two years. King-White v. Humble Indep.
Sch. Dist., 803 F.3d 754, 761 (5th Cir. 2015). Plaintiff
must have filed his lawsuit two years from the date his claim
accrued. "Under federal law, a claim accrues and
'the limitations period begins to run the moment the
plaintiff becomes aware that he has suffered an injury or has
sufficient information to know that he has been
injured.'" Spotts v. United States, 613
F.3d 559, 574 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting Piotrowski v. City
of Houston, 237 F.3d 567, 576 (5th Cir. 2001)). "A
plaintiff need not know that he has a legal cause of
action; he need know only the facts that would ultimately
support a claim." Piotrowski, 237 F.3d at 576
(citing Harrison v. United States, 708 F.2d 1023,
1027 (5th Cir. 1983)). On October 9, 2014, Plaintiff made a
complaint to Defendant that he was being discriminated
against on the basis of gender, after which he was reinstated
to Del Mar College. At the latest, Plaintiff was aware of any
injury he may have suffered by October 9, 2014, not the date
on which he withdrew from the program. Plaintiff filed this
lawsuit on October 24, 2016-more than two years after his
claim had accrued. See Spotts, 613 F.3d at 574. His
Title IX claims are therefore barred by the statute of
Plaintiff s claims were not barred by the statute of
limitations, the Court finds that Defendant is entitled to
summary judgment because there is no genuine dispute of
material fact. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. Plaintiff
complains that Defendant discriminated against him by
disparate treatment on the basis of sex. Title IX provides
that "[n]o person in the United States shall, on the
basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied
the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any
education program or activity receiving Federal financial
assistance." 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a). District courts
in this Circuit have used the McDonnell Douglas
framework to analyze Title IX claims alleging disparate
treatment on the basis of sex. See Pacheco v. St.
Mary's Univ., No. 15-CV-1131, 2017 WL 2670758, at
*13 (W.D. Tex. June 20, 2017); McDonnell Douglas Corp. v.
Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973). Plaintiff has not
established a prima facie case of discrimination or
retaliation under Title IX.
alleges that he experienced disparate treatment by
Defendant's selective enforcement: "that, regardless
of the student's guilt or innocence, the severity of the
penalty and/or the decision to initiate the proceeding was
affected by the student's gender." Yusufv.
Vassar Coll., 35 F.3d 709, 715 (2d Cir. 1994). "To
state aprima facie case for disparate treatment in
the form of disparate discipline, a student who is a member
of a protected class must show that other students not in the
protected class were 'treated differently under
circumstances nearly identical to [the
student's].'" Herndon v. Coll. of
Mainland, No. CIV.A.G-06-0286, 2009 WL 367500, at *29
(S.D. Tex. Feb. 13, 2009) (quoting Mayberry v. Vought
Aircraft Co., 55 F.3d 1086, 1090 (5th Cir.J995))
(internal quotations omitted).
there is no evidence that Plaintiff was treated differently
than other students-female or male-under nearly identical
circumstances. Without specificity Plaintiff argues that
Reyes and Kristi Guerrero, another female student, were
similarly vulgar and used sexual language during class.
Plaintiff points to Reyes' statement in her complaint
that "we [nursing students] all joke around at
times." (D.E. 35-1, Page 35). Plaintiff also alleges
that another female student, Chelsea Egeless, was
"viewing pornography openly in class" but was never
disciplined. (D.E. 38-1, Page 3). However, Plaintiff does not
provide evidence that any student complained about any other
student's conduct or that any other student had a similar
history of disruptive behavior. Plaintiffs misbehavior is not
only his lewd acting out but also his obstructing class
instruction and student/teacher conferences. Plaintiff fails
to show that Defendant treated any similarly situated female
student more favorably under similar circumstances. See
Pacheco, 2017 WL 2670758, at * 18-19. Plaintiff has not
established a prima facie case of discrimination
under Title IX.
Defendant is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiffs claim
of retaliation. "Title IX encompasses claims of
retaliation...where the funding recipient retaliates against
an individual because he has complained about sex
discrimination." Jackson v. Birmingham Bd. of
Educ, 544 U.S. 167, 171 (2005). To establish a.
prima facie case of retaliation under Title IX,
Plaintiff must show "(1) [he] engaged in activities
protected by Title IX; (2) [Defendant] took adverse action
against [him]; and (3) a causal connection exists between
[his] protected activities and [Defendant's] adverse
action." Lowrey v. Texas A&M Univ. Sys., 11
F.Supp.2d 895, 912 (S.D. Tex. 1998). Plaintiff filed a
complaint of discrimination on October 9, 2014-after an
investigation showing his repetitive misbehavior and his
dismissal from the program. After Plaintiff was reinstated in
the program, he claims that Dr. De Leon informed him that
Defendant was going to "get rid of him "the proper
way" and that he experienced a hostile classroom
environment. These actions do not amount to retaliatory
actions by Defendant. Because Defendant dismissed Plaintiff
prior to his filing a Title IX complaint, Plaintiff cannot
show he was dismissed because he filed his complaint and
therefore cannot establish a prima facie retaliation
case under Title IX.
foregoing reasons, the Court finds that Plaintiffs claims are
barred by the statute of limitations and that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact. ...