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Schaefer v. Fu

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 10, 2017

Alicia Schaefer, Plaintiff,
v.
Yongjie Fu and Trustees of Boston University, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge

         This case arises out of a physical altercation between two students enrolled at Boston University (“BU” or “defendant”). Plaintiff Alicia Schaefer (“plaintiff” or “Schaefer”) alleges that individual defendant Yongjie, a/k/a Thomas, Fu (“Fu”) stalked and eventually assaulted her and that as a result, she suffered serious physical injuries and emotional harm. Schaefer alleges that BU is blameworthy.

         Pending before the Court is BU's motion to dismiss Counts VI, VII and VIII of Schaefer's amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be allowed, in part, and denied, in part.

         I. Background

         In the 2012 fall semester, Thomas Fu and Alicia Schaefer became acquainted after enrolling in the same lecture course at Boston University. In that class, Fu sat close to Schaefer, who subsequently moved her seat to avoid him. Fu was purportedly often disruptive during lectures and Schaefer was told by one of her friends that Fu had attempted to force himself on her at a party.

         From the spring 2013 semester through the fall 2013 semester, Fu exhibited behavior that made Schaefer feel uncomfortable. He was allegedly aggressive, loud and confrontational during class, and he often attempted to sit close to Schaefer. Fu allegedly attempted, on numerous occasions, to talk with Schaefer and, at one point, told Schaefer that she should be a Bose headphones model. Schaefer spoke to two of her professors regarding Fu's classroom behavior and at least one of the professors indicated that she was familiar with Fu's antics.

         On or about October 29, 2013, Schaefer was waiting in line at a campus dining hall when Fu stood in line behind her. Fu attempted to place his order first but when Schaefer told him that it was not his turn, he allegedly began swearing at her. Schaefer picked up her sandwich and attempted to walk away but Fu body-checked her from behind, causing physical injuries to Schaefer, including a concussion. Schaefer was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the incident.

         In October, 2016, plaintiff filed a complaint in the Massachusetts Superior Court for Suffolk County. She amended that complaint in January, 2017 and shortly thereafter, BU removed the case to federal court on federal question and supplemental jurisdiction grounds. Plaintiff's eight-count amended complaint contains four counts against Fu and four counts against BU. Plaintiff alleges intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress (Count I), negligent infliction of emotional distress (Count II), battery (Count III) and assault (Count IV) against Fu. She alleges a violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §794 (Count V), a violation of Title IX, 20 U.S.C. §1681 (Count VI), a violation of M.G.L. c.214, §1(C) (Count VII) and negligence (Count VIII) against BU.

         The following week, BU filed a motion to dismiss Counts VI, VII and VIII of plaintiff's amended complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. That motion is the subject of this memorandum.

         II. Motion to Dismiss

         A. Legal Standard

         To survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain “sufficient factual matter” to state a claim for relief that is actionable as a matter of law and “plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 667 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A claim is facially plausible if, after accepting as true all non-conclusory factual allegations, the court can draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Ocasio-Hernandez v. Fortuno-Burset, 640 F.3d 1, 12 (1st Cir. 2011). A court may not disregard properly pled factual allegations even if actual proof of those facts is improbable. Id. Rather, the relevant inquiry focuses on the reasonableness of the inference of liability that the plaintiff is asking the court to draw. Id. at 13.

         When rendering that determination, a court may not look beyond the facts alleged in the complaint, documents incorporated by reference therein and facts susceptible to judicial notice. Haley v. City of Boston, 657 F.3d 39, 46 (1st Cir. 2011).

         B. ...


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