Larios v. Chadron State College
This is a civil rights case against a state college that failed to respond appropriately to reports of student-on-student dating violence and, as a result, the victim died. Fatima Larios, a promising student-athlete on the softball team at Chadron State College in Nebraska was found dead just three months after admitting to some teammates that her boyfriend had been beating her. Concerned for Ms. Larios’s safety and well-being, her teammates immediately reported the suspected abuse to one of their coaches, who also suspected dating violence. Although the school’s Title IX Coordinators and other school officials were informed about the suspected abuse and subsequent reports of escalating violence, the College did not take appropriate action to address the abuse. Three months after the first report, Ms. Larios was found hanging in the closet of her boyfriend’s dorm room. The coroner concluded that Ms. Larios had committed suicide.
Public Justice, Romanucci & Blandin, and Welsh & Welsh filed a Title IX complaint against Chadron State College in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska on January 30, 2017. (We also filed a companion state case to assert tort claims against the college on November 2, 2017.)
Discovery is complete and the college filed a motion for summary judgment that the district court denied on August 22, 2019. The court ruled that there was evidence that: the dating violence Ms. Larios suffered was gender-based (as required under Title IX); the college had actual knowledge that Ms. Larios had been subjected to dating violence; and the college acted with deliberate indifference to the reported harassment. The court further ruled that the foreseeability of Ms. Larios’s suicide as a response to dating violence could not be resolved as a matter of law, and a jury would have to decide whether the college could have prevented her suicide by taking more meaningful action to stop the dating violence.
The case will now proceed to trial.
- Adele Kimmel
Martin Gould and Tony Romanucci of Romanucci & Blandin, LLC
Christopher Welsh of Welsh & Welsh, P.C., L.L.O.