PDP Partner Adam Simms recently obtained a favorable summary judgment ruling in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on an issue of first impression relating to the type of compensatory damages available under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The plaintiffs, a former student of North Andover High School and the mother of another former student, sued the Town of Andover and several school officials alleging, inter alia, Title IX violations and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Relying upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller, Adam argued that emotional distress damages are not recoverable under Title IX. See142 S. Ct. 1562 (2022).
In Cummings, the Supreme Court held that emotional distress damages were not recoverable in actions brought pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act of 1972 and the Affordable Care Act – both of which were enacted pursuant to Congress’s Spending Clause powers. In a 6-3 decision, the Court reasoned that federal funding recipients would not have clear notice that they face such damages, since they are not traditionally available in contract law. The Cummings Court also suggested that such damages were not recoverable under other Spending Clause statutes, like Title IX. In this case, the District Court concluded that there is no basis to treat claims brought under Title IX differently than those brought under the statutes at issue in Cummings. With this holding, the District of Massachusetts becomes the second federal court in the First Circuit (after the District of Rhode Island) to eliminate emotional distress damages in Title IX actions.
The District Court also granted summary judgment for PDP’s clients on Counts III through VIII in their entirety. Those counts alleged denial of procedural and substantive due process, breach of contract, negligence, and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The case was captioned Doe v. Town of N. Andover, Civ. No. 20-10310, and can be found on the below link.
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Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Pierce Davis & Perritano also has offices in Providence, Rhode Island, Bridgeport, Connecticut, and California. PDP’s wealth of experience in a wide range of practice areas makes our firm well-suited to guide clients through all phases of litigation.