Another lesson on the difference between a conclusion and a fact…
“It’s too cold.” That’s a conclusion.
“I feel cold.” That’s a fact.
“It’s 27 degrees here.” Fact.
Today’s Daily Dawg offers a little inside baseball for the lawyers and lawyer wannabes out there. When a plaintiff files a lawsuit, the plaintiff has to allege FACTS that, if true, amount to a valid legal claim. Thus sometimes cases get tossed out at the outset because the plaintiff’s lawyer alleges only conclusions rather than facts.
“The school district violated the First Amendment.” Conclusion.
“The school district suspended the student from cheerleading because of the student’s Snapchat post.” Fact. “This violates the First Amendment.” That’s a valid legal assertion based on the alleged facts.
This distinction came up in a recent case alleging constitutional and Title IX claims against the district, the board, the superintendent and the principal. The court dismissed the case due to the failure of the plaintiff to allege facts to show that any of them knew about the sexual harassment of the student by two security officers.
So what do you think about this: “The principal knew that the security officers had sexually harassed the student.” Fact or conclusion?
I’d classify that as an allegation of fact, but the court didn’t. The court said it was “conclusory” because it failed to allege how the principal knew. It did not allege that someone told them, or that they had witnessed it personally. Thus the assertion that the principal “knew” was a conclusion, not a fact. Case dismissed.
Just one more comment about this one: I think you’ll be pleased to know that both security officers were fired. The case is Sterling v. BOE of Evanston Township High School District, decided by the federal court for the Northern District of Illinois in 2021. We found it on Special Ed Connection at 78 IDELR 134.
DAWG BONE: SOMETIMES IT’S EASY TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FACT AND A CONCLUSION. SOMETIMES NOT SO EASY.
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