United States District Court, D. Colorado
JANE DOE, through her mother and next friend Megan Doe, Plaintiff,
BRIGHTON SCHOOL DISTRICT 27J; CHRIS FIELDER, individually, and in his official capacity as superintendent of Brighton 27J School District; SHELLY GENEREUX, individually, and in her official capacity as a principal with Brighton 27J School District; DAVID SMITH, individually, and in his official capacity as an assistant principal with Brighton 27J School District; JANELLE WEAVER, individually, and in her official capacity as an assistant principal with Brighton 27J School District; DESIREE QUINTANILLA, individually, and in her official capacity as an Intervention Specialist with Brighton 27J; RICHARD PATTERSON, individually, and in his official capacity as Director of Student achievement and Professional learning for Brighton 27J., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' UNOPPOSED MOTION FOR
LEAVE TO PROCEED ANONYMOUSLY
WILLIAM J. MARTÍNEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
April 1, 2019, Plaintiff Jane Doe, through her mother and
next friend Megan Doe (“Plaintiffs”), filed the
instant action for deliberate indifference to sexual
harassment and retaliation in violation of Title IX of the
Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681
et seq. (“Title IX”), deprivation of her
rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, sex discrimination and
deliberate indifference thereto, and declaratory and
injunctive relief, arising out of Brighton School District
27J and employee's (together, “Defendants”)
handing of her report of sexual misconduct by a fellow
student. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 124-190.) On April 2, 2019,
Plaintiffs filed an Unopposed Motion for Leave to Proceed
Anonymously (the “Motion”). (ECF No. 7.)
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandate that “[e]very
action shall be prosecuted in the name of the real party in
interest.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(a); Femedeer v.
Haun, 227 F.3d 1244, 1246 (10th Cir. 2000). There are no
rules or statutes which allow parties to proceed under a
fictitious name. Femedeer, 227 F.3d at 1246. The
Tenth Circuit has, however, recognized that there may be
“exceptional circumstances” in which a party may
be allowed to proceed anonymously. Id. These
“exceptional circumstances” typically involve
“matters of a highly sensitive and personal nature,
real danger of physical harm, or where the injury litigated
against would be incurred as a result of the disclosure of
the plaintiff's identity.” Id. (citing
Doe v. Frank, 951 F.2d 320, 324 (11th Cir. 1992)).
determining whether to permit a party to proceed anonymously,
the Court is to weigh “the plaintiff's claimed
right to privacy against the countervailing public
interest” in public court proceedings. M.M. v.
Zavaras, 139 F.3d 798, 803 (10th Cir. 1998). Courts
within the Tenth Circuit have permitted plaintiffs who are
allegedly victims of sexual assault or harassment, and where
appropriate their parents, to proceed anonymously. Roe v.
Minguela, 2018 WL 4148261, at *11 (D. Colo. Aug. 30,
2018) (finding that victims of sexual assault showed good
cause to proceed under pseudonyms); see also S.S. as Next
Friend of L.S. v. Napolitano, 2019 WL 316747, at *3 (D.
Kan. Jan. 24, 2019) (allowing underage victim of sexual
assault and her father to proceed anonymously); M. T. v.
Olathe Pub. Sch. USD 233, 2018 WL 806210, at *3 (D. Kan.
Feb. 9, 2018) (finding that “the real potential of
additional psychological harm” outweighed the public
interest in disclosure of the names of a minor sexual assault
victim and her mother); S.E.S. v. Galena Unified Sch.
Dist. No. 499, 2018 WL 3389878, at *2 (D. Kan. July 12,
information contained in Plaintiffs' Motion establishes
to the Court's satisfaction that they should be permitted
to proceed anonymously. (See ECF No. 7.) Plaintiffs
claim that Jane Doe, a minor, was sexually assaulted by a
classmate, and that after she reported the conduct,
Defendants failed to take appropriate action. After Jane Doe
reported the assault to school officials, Jane Doe alleges
she suffered retaliation and bullying by the assailant's
friends, both in-person and on social media. As a result,
Jane Doe states that she has suffered from emotion distress,
panic attacks, and depression (including suicidal ideations).
such, the Court finds that Jane Doe's allegations are of
a highly sensitive and personal nature, and revealing Jane
Doe's identity could result in additional harm from
public identification. See M. T. v. Olathe Pub. Sch. USD
233, 2018 WL 806210, at *3. The Court further finds that
the real potential for additional psychological harm
outweighs the public interest in disclosure. See S.E.S.
v. Galena Unified Sch. Dist. No. 499, 2018 WL 3389878,
addition, “[o]rdering disclosure of the parent's
identities would place-in effect-personally identifiable and
confidential information about the alleged sex . . .
harassment of a minor in the public record.”
Id. at *2. Disclosing Megan Doe's identity would
very likely result in the revealing Jane Doe's identity.
The Court has already concluded that use of a pseudonym for
Jane Doe is appropriate, and thus to prevent her name from
being revealed at this time, the Court will also allow Megan
Doe to proceed under a pseudonym. See Id. The Court
thus finds that it is appropriate to allow both Plaintiffs to
reasons set forth above, the Court orders as follows:
1. Plaintiffs' Unopposed Motion for Leave to Proceed
Anonymously (ECF No. 7) is GRANTED;
2. All captions and filings shall refer to Plaintiffs as
“Jane Doe” and “Megan Doe” in all
future Court filings; and
3. If it is necessary to file a document with the Court
bearing Plaintiffs' true names, such a document shall be
filed under Level One Restriction pursuant to D.C.COLO.LCivR
7.2, such that it is viewable by the Court and parties only,
and a redacted copy of ...