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Judge Issues Order Barring Plaintiff from Seeking Emotional Damages

Massachusetts District Court Judge Denise Casper issued an order confirming her prior inclinations, preventing the plaintiff in a $3 million lawsuit against Boston College from admitting any evidence to the jury proving his innocence in an alleged sexual assault incident. All that will be considered by the jury are matters relating to the University disciplinary process that ensued after the incident. In addition, the plaintiff, identified only as “John Doe” in court documents, will not be entitled to emotional distress damages, per Casper’s order.

Doe had argued that the nature of the hearing process and final decision of the hearing board were inextricable, but Casper struck down those arguments through her interpretation of the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ previous decision. All that remains to be tried before a jury in late April are matters pertaining to the hearing. Matters pertaining to Doe’s innocence will not be admissible.

Additional information, like forensically analyzed video and DNA evidence that was not available to the BC hearing board, will not be admissible in the trial, according to Casper. The last chance for Doe to submit such evidence was wiped out when emotional distress damages were eliminated as an option—since the case is a contract case, both the breach-of-contract claim and the basic fairness claims are not subject to having caused emotional damage based on prior court precedent.

That scope is more along the lines of what University attorneys argued to Massachusetts District Court Judge Denise Casper. Doe’s representation posited that potentially-exculpatory evidence in Doe’s case should be brought before the jury.

The end result of this decision is unclear. Financial economist Joel Morse, a tenured professor of economics at the University of Baltimore, estimated that Doe is entitled to $885,751 in damages before taxes without taking into account emotional distress. Morse’s work was submitted by the plaintiff, and it is uncertain if that amount would be changed given Casper’s latest ruling. The original $3 million claim was made under the auspices of including emotional distress damages.

Featured Image Courtesy of Massachusetts District Court

March 25, 2019