Judge: Students Suing Bucknell U Can’t Remain Anonymous

Six students who filed a lawsuit against the college, claiming the school violated their constitutional rights, cannot remain anonymous if they wish to continue litigation.

LEWISBURG, Pa. – A judge has ruled that the six current and former Bucknell University students who filed a lawsuit against the college, claiming that the school violated their constitutional rights, cannot remain anonymous if they wish to continue litigation.

The plaintiffs, who have been identified only by initials, filed the lawsuit in December 2013, stating that their constitutional rights were violated during a February 2012 search of the Kappa Sigma fraternity house and a residence hall.

The suit claims that someone involved with the search pulled fire alarm at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house and other buildings. After the students vacated the buildings, their personal belongings were searched for about three hours, according to the lawsuit.

The search was prompted after drug paraphernalia was discovered in a hallway trash can and an instructor found a cell phone in her classroom that contained texts suggesting drug activity. The university maintains the search was consistent with school policy, The Daily Item reports.

The plaintiffs said they wanted to remain anonymous because they believed that their standing with fellow students and professors would be damaged if their names were disclosed. Furthermore, they said it could interfere with future opportunities for higher education and employment.

Although some federal courts have allowed plaintiffs to remain anonymous due to special circumstances, such as facing deportation, U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann ruled that there is no need to protect the identities of adults alleging Fourth Amendement violations.

He ordered the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint with their full names by July 23 if they want to pursue litigation.

The plaintiffs seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, expungement of any criminal or disciplinary record from the search, a protective order precluding the defendants from disclosing the identity of any plaintiffs and a halt to any practices deemed unlawful.

Tagged with: Fourth Amendment
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