Litigation Against Universities

Jesse Yeh led the collection and coding of lawsuits faced by colleges and universities over their handling of student sexual misconduct.

As student lawsuits have emerged as a critical mechanism in shaping school policies and public perception, this endeavor intends to bring empirical data to bear on the characteristics of the schools being sued and the types of lawsuits brought against them. We collected and analyzed the initial complaints and docket log of all lawsuits faced by our representative sample of 381 schools between 1992 to 2019.

This set of data holds clear policy and theoretical implications. In our preliminary analysis, we find that even though students accused of sexual misconduct only began suing the schools in 2013, the total number of lawsuits brought by the accused students outpaced survivors by two to one. Furthermore, lawsuits are directed disproportionately against prestigious universities and universities with large endowments. Lawsuits are largely unrelated to the types of student sexual adjudication procedures the schools adopted. As our analysis of this data continues, we will evaluate competing explanations of the sources of this litigation. Findings to date suggest the need to reconsider the dominant media and political narrative that the uptick in litigation resulted from schools violating the due process rights of the accused students.


Patterns in Litigation Involving Campus Sexual Misconduct Adjudication, 1992 – 2019.” (28 May 2021). Annual Meeting on Law and Society.

Team Members:

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