In Levy v. Shuster, handed down Nov. 28, states that the Plaintiff and Defendant dated for nearly a year while enrolled at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. After their relationship ended in October 2021, Defendant complained about Plaintiff’s behavior to Tulane, which issued mutual no-contact orders the next month. Defendant also sought a protective order in Louisiana state court, claiming that Plaintiff stalked, harassed, shoved, and threatened her. In both proceedings, Defendant did not claim that Plaintiff sexually assaulted her. Plaintiff alleges that he never sexually assaulted Defendant, and that he left Tulane voluntarily. Plaintiff enrolled in Front Range Community College in Boulder, Colorado, with plans to transfer to CU Boulder the next year. However, after the fraternity he joined became privy to the negative allegations made by Defendant, he was expelled and had to withdraw from CU Boulder. Defendant has returned to Tulane and continued spreading false allegations.

Plaintiff has brought three claims arising out of these allegations: defamation, intrusion on seclusion, and unreasonable disclosure of private facts. Ms. Shuster has filed counterclaims for sexual assault, rape, battery, assault, stalking, cyberstalking, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and statutory violations under state and federal law.

Plaintiff’s initial motion to prosecute this action pseudonymously was denied. To justify use of a pseudonym, the risk that a plaintiff may suffer some embarrassment is not enough. The Tenth Circuit has “nevertheless recognized that anonymity in court proceedings may sometimes be warranted, but it is limited to ‘exceptional circumstances,’ such as cases ‘involving 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.'”

The court said no to pursuing this action pseudonymously. Plaintiff then sought reconsideration, but the court said no.

The public has a right to access judicial records which fosters important values such as respect for our judicial system. There is a presumption that documents essential to the judicial process are to be available to the public, but access to them may be restricted when the public’s right of access is outweighed by interests which favor nondisclosure. Identifying a plaintiff only by a pseudonym is an unusual procedure, to be allowed only where there is an important privacy interest to be recognized.

Plaintiff has failed to provide the court with any specific claims of potential retaliation or harassment. The court concluded that effectively ameliorating the reputational injury litigated against in this action requires Plaintiff’s identity to be disclosed. The Court has adequately considered the Parties’ identities and the litigation dynamics in its Pseudonymity Minute Order. The Court will not now disturb that analysis on the basis of supposedly overstating a public interest.

By admin