Posted: Monday, May 25, 2015 3:00 am
Attorneys representing a former West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine student in a gender discrimination lawsuit responded to the defendants’ motions to dismiss, calling the motions “inadequate” and “premature.”
The plaintiff, N.R., claims the WVSOM and five officials at the school grossly mishandled her complaint of sexual assault by another student, D.M.
The complaint was filed Jan. 23 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District, citing WVSOM, President Michael Adelman, Associate Vice President for Human Resources Leslie Bicksler, Associate Dean for Assessment and Educational Development Elaine Soper and Jeffrey Shawver, general counsel for WVSOM, as defendants.
Another employee, Tiffany Wright, was listed as a defendant on an amended complaint filed Feb. 23.
In the 270 paragraphs of allegations, N.R. claims she was discriminated against on the basis of sex; WVSOM and its employees failed to implement grievance policies and procedures to resolve her sexual harassment complaint; her freedom of speech rights were violated by Shawver; she suffered invasion of privacy due to information disclosed by Wright; WVSOM failed to properly train and supervise its employees on sexual assault reporting procedure; and Adelman provided inappropriate legal counsel.
All the defendants listed in the suit filed a motion for dismissal March 27.
WVSOM, represented by David E. Schumacher and Michael W. Taylor of Bailey & Wyant PLLC, asked to be dismissed from the suit because it is not a “person.”
The school further claims its 60-page report found N.R.’s sexual harassment claim unsubstantiated.
Defendants Shawver, Adelman, Bicksler and Soper, who are being represented by the same attorneys as WVSOM, claim they cannot be sued in their individual capacities, and the complaints are time-barred by the statute of limitations.
Wright, who is being represented by Theresa M. Kirk of the Beckley-based law firm Pullin, Flanagan, Brown and Poe PLLC, also claims the complaint was filed past the one-year statute of limitations.
The plaintiff is being represented by James R. Marsh and Jennifer Freeman of The Marsh Law Firm of New York, and Rachel Hanna, a Lewisburg attorney.
Attorneys wrote in a May 18 filing, “Particularly at this early stage, without the benefit of any discovery, and given that much of the relevant evidence is primarily if not exclusively in the hands of the defendants, dismissal of the complaint would be wholly improper, unfair and premature.”
N.R. is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief requiring WVSOM to change its drug policy and provide testing for assault victims.
The complaint said WVSOM “punished the victim,” failed to collect critical evidence, improperly imposed a gag order on N.R., “permitted if not encouraged ridicule and mockery of her” and failed to protect her from contact with her alleged rapist.
“Rather than taking steps to prevent recurrence of sex discrimination or harassment and to correct discriminatory effects on N.R., WVSOM effectively kicked N.R. out of school.”
— E-mail: wholdren@
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