The Allegations in the New Lawsuit Against Yale Law School

Eugene Volokh:

[1.] I reviewed them again, and thought I’d post just the factual allegations (which start below at item 3). [UPDATE: The excellent David Lat has more.] As I read them, I found myself comparing them to the tone of the alleged conduct by two of the same administrators (Cosgrove and Eldik) in their interaction with Yale law student Trent Colbert (from TrapHouseGate), so I thought I’d include them alongside; let me know whether you too see a common thread in the tone:

[2.] You might also compare the allegations with the same two administrators’ alleged interaction with Yale law student and chapter Federalist Society president Zack Austin, as reported based on Austin’s account by David Lat:

[3.] Now, to the allegations from the new lawsuit, which relates to DinnerPartyGate rather than TrapHouseGate; I extracted them from the Complaint, but removed the paragraph numbers and merged paragraphs together for readability:

It was subsequently reported in 2019 that Chua had entered a “no-socializing” agreement with the University whereby she agreed to not socialize with students off-campus. Starting in February 2021, both Jane and John became embroiled in Gerken and Cosgrove’s apparent vendetta against Chua.

That month, Jane and John separately attended Zoom “office hours” with Chua to discuss their coursework. These office hours discussions would also cover career discussions and any concerns that Jane or John voiced about the University. In particular, John struggled with what he felt was a lack of institutional support for students of color, which ended with his frustrated resignation from the board of the Yale Law Journal. His resignation received media coverage including on the popular legal blog (particularly among law students) Above the Law. This caused John to face significant hostility at the school.

Chua, having similarly faced such race-based, online-instigated hostility, as well as being one of the few faculty members of color at Yale Law School, was in a unique position to offer John guidance on these issues. Given the sensitive nature of the subject, John and Jane (who was John’s friend and had also faced similar hostility) wished to discuss their issues with Chua in person. To avoid meeting in public to discuss such a sensitive subject, Jane, John, and Chua decided to meet at Chua’s home, which was a common practice amongst Yale faculty members. (In fact, Gerken has met with both Jane and John at Gerken’s own residence on several occasions.)

John and Jane met Chua twice at her home, in February 2021 and March 2021. Both meetings included only John, Jane, and Chua, and no meals were involved.

The Dossier

Unbeknownst to Jane or John at the time, these two meetings somehow became subject of pernicious law school gossip. One of their classmates went so far as to compile a bizarre 20-page document, the Dossier (Ex. A), that purported to document the “secret dinner parties” that Chua was supposedly hosting with John, Jane, and unidentified federal judges. The Dossier eventually gained such wide circulation that it became the subject of investigative reporting from news outlets including The New YorkerThe New York Times, and The AtlanticThe New Yorker described the Dossier as “extremely thin,” and The New York Times anonymously quoted “several” Yale Law professors who had told the newspaper that “they were shocked at how unpersuasive” the Dossier was.

On its face, the Dossier—which refers to Jane and John as “Jane Doe” and “John Doe” in its main text but identifies them by name through exhibited screenshots of text messages—claims that Jane and John had “repeatedly lied” about their experience as students of color at the Law School, and further “repeatedly lied” about the existence of the secret dinner parties, before supposedly admitting their existence to the Dossier’s author either in person or in “self-deleting” text messages. As evidence, the Dossier included a number of text messages, some with Jane or John, none of which consisted of them admitting to any secret dinner parties. On the contrary, in large part they seemed to consist of the Dossier’s author making his own claims in text messages—to Jane, John, and other unidentified friends—about the existence of such parties.

The Dossier also included photos of John’s feet outside in the snow as “evidence” and denounced Jane and John for “deliberately enabling” a “secret atmosphere of favoritism, misogyny, and sexual harassment.”