Doe v. Blake School, The
ORDER granting 2 Motion to Allow Plaintiff to Proceed Using a Pseudonym (Written Opinion) Signed by Magistrate Judge Katherine M. Menendez on 4/11/2018. (BJP)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Case No. 0:18-cv-00919-JRT-KMM
The Blake School,
This matter is before the Court on the plaintiff’s motion seeking permission to
proceed under the pseudonym John Doe throughout this litigation. [ECF No. 2.] The
defendant, the Blake School, has informed the Court that it does not oppose the
plaintiff’s motion. [See E-mail from Sean Somermeyer to the Court (Apr. 6, 2018) (on
file with the Court).]
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require pleadings to contain the names of
all parties. Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a). This creates a presumption in favor of publicly
identified litigants proceeding under their true names, and against pseudonymous
proceedings. See, e.g., Luckett v. Beaudet, 21 F. Supp. 2d. 1029, 1029 (D. Minn. 1998)
(“There is a strong presumption against allowing parties to use a pseudonym.”).
However, “[i]n cases involving intensely personal matters, ‘the normal practice of
disclosing the parties’ identities yields to a policy of protecting privacy.’” In re Ashley
Madison Customer Data Security Breach Litig., MDL No. 2669, 2016 WL 1366616, at * 3
(E.D. Mo. Ap. 6, 2016) (quoting Southern Methodist Univ. Assoc. of Women Law Students v.
Wynne & Jaffe, 599 F.2d 707, 712 (5th Cir. 1979)).
Here, the plaintiff asserts that in his senior year at the Blake School he was
suspended following an unfair disciplinary process investigating an accusation that he
touched a female student inappropriately during a school dance. Based on the
allegations in the Complaint, the Court concludes that at this stage of the litigation,
the relevant factors weigh in favor of allowing the plaintiff to proceed anonymously in
this case. See, e. g., Doe v. Colgate Univ., No. 5:15-cv-1069, 2016 WL1448829, at *3-4
(N.D.N.Y. Ap. 12, 2016) (allowing pseudonymous pleading in case involving
university’s handling of sexual assault claim against plaintiff and collecting cases
reaching the same result); Doe v. the Rector and Visitors of George Mason Univ., 179 F.
Supp. 3d 583, 593 (E.D. Va. Ap. 14, 2016) (“There can be no doubt that the litigation
here focuses on a ‘matter of a sensitive and highly personal nature.’”). If the balance
shifts at a later stage in the proceedings, and the Blake School believes it is no longer
appropriate for the plaintiff to proceed under a pseudonym, it is free to reopen the
Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT the plaintiff’s motion to
proceed using a pseudonym [ECF No. 2] is GRANTED.
s/ Katherine Menendez
United States Magistrate Judge
Date: April 11, 2018
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