A Simmons University graduate student has had her lawsuit against the school dismissed after she failed to sufficiently prove that the college was liable for her professor’s alleged posting of a video of her using the bathroom during a Zoom class.
Jennifer Miles, unaware that her camera was on during the online class, sued the school and the professor for several tort law violations following the viral incident.
Miles claimed that Kyle Killian, professor of the “Family Approaches” class that she took, recorded the incident on his cellphone and shared it on Twitter. The video, which has since gained over 7 million views and inspired a parody sketch from Saturday Night Live, made her feel “understandably humiliated.”
However, the district court said the university can only be held responsible if Miles can confirm that Killian’s alleged actions fell within the reasonable scope of activities that are expected to be part of his job. Since she was not able to do so, being dismissed from the lawsuit is within the school’s rights.
The initial complaint was not upheld because simply referencing the university’s confidentiality policy regarding online classes was not sufficient to allege the institution’s liability. Miles was unable to convince the court that Killian’s alleged actions should have been “foreseeable by the university.”
Judge Eric C. Tostrud added that she could not prove that the video was posted during employment hours and that her alternate theory that Simmons University consciously supported the actions leading to the viral incident could not be accepted.
However, the dismissal of the case was “without prejudice” in the event that Miles’ remaining claims against Killian turn up evidence that he was, indeed, acting within the scope of his employment.