Bloomberg Law
March 23, 2023, 6:00 PM

Baylor U. Gains Dismissal of Title IX Emotional Distress Claims

Aruni Soni

Baylor University cannot be liable for damages for emotional distress allegedly sustained by more than a dozen women who sued the school anonymously alleging violations of Title IX , a Texas federal court said.

Emotional distress damages are generally not available for breach of contract claims, the District Court for the Western District of Texas Waco Division said. Judge Robert Pitman‘s ruling cited the US Supreme Court’s decision last year in Cummings v. Premier Rehab Keller PLLC, which held that such damages weren’t recoverable in suits to enforce two other Congressional spending-related anti-discriminatory laws, the Rehabilitation Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Title IX is a statute that prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating—recipients agree not to discriminate in exchange for funding—and thus operates like a contract, Pitman said. “Because emotional distress damages are generally not available for a breach of contract claim, a funding recipient has not “consented to be subject to damages for emotional distress,” he said.

Pitman said his decision aligns with a majority of other courts who have applied the same reasoning to Title IX cases. The court found that the Title IX does not explicitly provide a private remedy in its statutory language, leaving individuals “with traditional contract remedies which do not allow for emotional distress damages.”

Baylor’s request for judgment in its favor on the plaintiffs’ claims of emotional distress outside of Title IX violations, however, was denied. Their bid for emotional distress damages negligence claims remains intact, the court said.

The Jane Does have until April 7 this year to file a motion for a leave to amend their pleadings to account for Cummings, as the high court issued that ruling after the women sued the school.

The case is Doe 1 v. Baylor Univ., W.D. Tex., 6:16-cv-00173, 3/21/23.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aruni Soni in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Carmen Castro-Pagán at; Andrew Harris at

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