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December 18, 2000


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, District Judge.



On February 2, 2000, plaintiff Inbal Hayut ("Hayut" or "plaintiff") commenced the instant action in the Southern District of New York against defendants pursuant to Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681-1688, and for the deprivation of federal constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1988, and various state laws, including the New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law § 296 ("HRL"). She is asserting causes of action for sex discrimination, due process and equal protection violations, state constitutional tort, ministerial neglect, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, attorneys' fees and costs, and injunctive relief. On May 5, 2000, venue was transferred to the Northern District of New York by the Honorable William C. Conner.

Defendant Alex Young ("Prof. Young") now moves to dismiss all claims against him pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The other defendants move for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). Plaintiff opposes. Oral argument was heard on October 27, 2000, in Albany, New York. Decision was reserved.


This action arises out of the alleged sexual harassment of Hayut by Prof. Young, and the failure of defendants Richard Varbero ("Dean Varbero"), Lewis Brownstein ("Prof. Brownstein"), and Gerald Benjamin ("Dean Benjamin") (collectively, the "individual defendants"), to take reasonable steps to investigate her complaints of sexual harassment. The following are the facts stated in the light most favorable to the nonmoving plaintiff

Hayut is a foreign-born Jewish female of Israeli descent.*fn1 After successful completion of two years of community college, she enrolled as a student at defendants State University of New York ("SUNY") and SUNY College at New Paltz ("SUNY-New Paltz") (collectively "SUNY defendants") for the 1998-1999 academic year. She alleges that one of her instructors, Prof. Young, sexually harassed her in class throughout the Fall 1998 semester.*fn2 This harassment consisted of Prof. Young continuously referring to her as "Monica Lewinsky" throughout the fall semester, and making comments which associated plaintiff with some of Lewinsky's more notorious conduct. Prof. Young observed that plaintiff wore the same color lipstick as Monica Lewinsky, and made comments such as, "How was your weekend with Bill," and "Shut up, Monica. I'll give you a cigar later." All of these comments were made in front of the entire class. Plaintiff was greatly distressed by these comments, and she asked Prof. Young to stop.

The effect of this harassment was intensified by the importance of Prof. Young to Hayut's academic success. Hayut believed that she needed his approval to succeed at SUNY New Paltz, because his classes constituted more than fifty percent of her grade point average for the semester and one hundred percent of her grade point average in her major. In addition, the political science department at SUNY-New Paltz had only a few professors, which led Hayut to believe that she would have to continue to take classes from Prof. Young in order to complete her degree requirements in political science.

In November 1998, when the alleged harassing conduct had not ceased, she went to an associate dean, Dean Varbero, to complain about Prof. Young's conduct. He referred plaintiff to Prof. Brownstein, chair of Prof. Young's department. Plaintiff alleges she went to Prof. Brownstein's office and informed the staff she was there to complain about Prof. Young's conduct. She was informed that Prof. Brownstein was not in his office. She waited one hour for him to return, but he did not. No one in his office offered to help her. After waiting an hour in his office, she left. She did not make an appointment, or follow up on her complaint until January 1999.*fn3

Because of Prof. Young's harassment, Hayut was overcome with shame and humiliation. She was unable to concentrate, and her academic performance was adversely affected. She barely passed her courses in the fall semester, and received failing grades in the spring 1999 semester. She voluntarily withdrew from SUNY-New Paltz, and had to complete a year of remedial education before she was permitted to matriculate at another university.*fn4


A. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion*fn5, a court "must accept the allegations contained in the complaint as true, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-movant; it should not dismiss the complaint `unless it appears beyond a reasonable doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of [her] claim which would entitle [her] to relief'" Sheppard v. Beerman, 18 F.3d 147, 150 (2d Cir. 1994) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957)); see also Kaluczky v. City of White Plains, 57 F.3d 202, 206 (2d Cir. 1995). However, conclusory allegations that merely state the general legal conclusions necessary to prevail on the merits and are unsupported by factual averments will not be accepted as true. See, e.g., Clapp v. Greene, 743 F. Supp. 273, 276 (S.D.N Y 1990); Albert v. Carovano, 851 F.2d 561, 572 (2d Cir. 1988).

B. Title IX*fn6

In order to establish liability for sexual harassment under Title IX, plaintiff must show that "an official who . . . has authority to address the alleged discrimination and to institute corrective measures on the [university's] behalf has actual knowledge of discrimination . . . and fails to adequately respond," Gebser v. Lago Vista Indep. Sch. Dist., 524 U.S. 274, 290, 118 S.Ct. 1989, 141 L.Ed.2d 277 (1998). Furthermore, the official's failure to respond "must amount to deliberate indifference." Id.

C. 42 U.S.C. § 1983

To recover damages under 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, plaintiff must show that: (1) "the conduct complained of was committed by a person acting under color of state law"; and (2) such "conduct deprived [plaintiff] of rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States." Greenwich Citizens Comm., Inc. v. Counties of Warren and Washington Indus. Dev. Agency, 77 F.3d 26, ...

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