Delta Tau Delta seeks dismissal from EMU rape lawsuit

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Delta Tau Delta fraternity filed a motion Tuesday seeking to be dismissed from a lawsuit involving claims of sexual assaults at Eastern Michigan University, some of which allegedly occurred inside the local fraternity house.

Attorneys for the national fraternity argued that most of the claims occurred more than three years ago, so they are barred by the statute of limitations.

The fraternity's lawyers also argued that plaintiffs with timely claims failed to establish that they had a "'special relationship' with any of the national fraternities that would give rise to a legal duty in those Defendants to protect the Plaintiffs from the alleged criminal assaults."

The Delta Tau Delta house near the campus of Eastern Michigan University on Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021.

"Therefore, the Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and the claims asserted against DTD-National should be dismissed," the motion says.

Delta Tau Delta was responding to a lawsuit filed earlier this year by 23 Jane Does and one John Doe, in which many sexual assaults allegedly occurred in fraternity houses and claims that EMU failed to respond to them properly.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are EMU, several EMU officials, along with Delta Tau Delta, Theta Chi and Alpha Sigma Phi fraternities and Sigma Kappa sorority.

Seven Jane Does allege sexual assaults occurred at Delta Tau Delta fraternity, including claims from Jane Doe 1, Jane Does 12-15 and Jane Does 18-19.

Lawyers for Delta Tau Delta noted that none of the assailants had been named in the lawsuit.

They also argued that negligence claims should be dismissed, and the national fraternity did not have a legal duty to control the alleged assailants.

"DTD-National is also not vicariously liable for the conduct of the alleged assailants," the document says. "Vainly trying to impose such an obligation, Plaintiffs wildly assert that the assailants were DTD-National's 'agents and/or representatives.'"

Todd Flood, the attorney representing the accusers, said he was not surprised by the fraternity's dismissal request. 

"We expected them to do as much, and we will reply in kind," Flood said.  

Delta Tau Delta's response came one day after EMU President James Smith announced that the local Alpha Sigma Phi chapter informed EMU last week of its decision to disassociate from the university, and is not longer recognized as an EMU student organization. But the fraternity will still continue to operate on campus and recruit new members.

EMU announced in September it was reviewing Alpha Sigma Phi and Delta Tau Delta to evaluate their "future status on our campus."

Alpha Sigma Phi officials said they were willing to participate but EMU failed to address member concerns about the process, and the fraternity was concerned about a "kangaroo court." 

Students have responded and are planning a protest next Tuesday because they are concerned that Alpha Sigma Phi no longer has to abide by the safety precautions put in place by EMU.

kkozlowski@detroitnews.com