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- Third Circuit Finds University Owed Student Title IX Protection Against Non-Student Offender
Newsletter > March 2022 > "Third Circuit Finds University Owed Student Title IX Protection Against Non-Student Offender"
Third Circuit Finds University Owed Student Title IX Protection Against Non-Student Offender
Haellie Gordon,  Fraternal Law Partners, firstname.lastname@example.org
 Haellie Gordon is a law clerk at Manley Burke and is a first-year law student at the University of Cincinnati.
Back in March 2017, David Westol wrote about a Title IX lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.The parents of Karlie Hall, a freshman at Millersville University (the “University”) who was murdered by her partner in her dorm room following ongoing harassment and assaults, brought suit against the University for failing to protect their daughter. They claimed the University was on notice that Karlie’s partner, a non-student visitor, conducted himself in a manner that violated Karlie’s Title IX rights.
The District Court found the University was not on notice prior to Karlie’s death that non-students could place the school in violation of Karlie’s Title IX rights. Accordingly, the trial court granted summary judgement to the University, freeing it from liability.
On January 11, 2022, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s summary judgement. The Third Circuit noted the U.S. Supreme Court’s clear findings, as well as the University’s own policy, that Title IX protections extend to the conduct of individuals other than students. While the lower court interpreted Title IX as only applying to invitees of the University, the appellate court cited the Office of Civil Rights’ guidance that Title IX requires action when the University has “substantial control” over both the visitor or non-student offender and the circumstances in which the harassment occurred. Here, evidence suggested the University previously exercised control over Karlie’s partner by removing him from campus months before the murder. Additionally, the University had knowledge of the ongoing harassment and assaults through official reports from the dorm’s resident assistant.
Ultimately, the Third Circuit found the University to have acted with “complete indifference” to the harassment. The University’s deputy Title IX coordinator admitted to making no efforts to send the resident assistant’s report to the Title IX coordinator or to contact Karlie regarding the reported harassment, both of which violated the University’s Title IX policies.
The Third Circuit’s decision outlines Title IX as requiring universities to take action when they have knowledge of and the power to act when serious, ongoing sex-based violence occurs against its students, regardless of whether the offender is a student. The University has not appealed as of yet, but Fraternal Law will continue to provide updates as this matter progresses.
 David Westol, New Lawsuit Filed, 147 Fraternal L. 1, 4-5 (Mar. 2017).
 Davis v. Monroe Cty. Bd. Of Edu., 526 U.S. 629, 643–46 (1999); see also Simpson v. Univ. of Colo. Boulder, 500 F.3d 1170 (10th Cir. 2007).
 Hall v. Millersville Univ., No. 19-3275, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 715 (3d Cir. Jan. 11, 2022).
 See e.g. Office for Civil Rights; Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties, 62 Fed. Reg. 12034-01 (Mar. 13, 1997).
 Hall, 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS at *27.
 Id. at *33-34.