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Doe v. University of Missouri

A Summary of the Courts

Written by Dan Fotoples, J.D., M.A., Senior Content Developer, TNG

In our ATIXA newsletter in May 2022, we briefly analyzed a Supreme Court decision, Cummings v. Premier Rehab, in which the Court held that plaintiffs may not recover emotional distress damages under the discrimination provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the Affordable Care Act. At the time, we predicted that the availability of emotional distress damages for Title IX claims may likewise face restriction because Title IX funding, like funding for the Rehabilitation Act and Affordable Care Act, stems from the Spending Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Federal courts did not take long to extend Cummings to Title IX. In July, a Missouri federal court hearing Jane Doe v. The Curators of the University of Missouri held that emotional distress damages are not available in Title IX lawsuits. One hardly needed a crystal ball to see this one coming, but it will be interesting to see how these decisions impact Title IX litigation moving forward. Will the reduction of available damages discourage plaintiffs from initiating Title IX litigation? Will attorneys be less interested in pursuing Title IX claims on a contingency fee basis now that damages may be significantly lower? Only time will tell, but the answer is likely “yes.”