Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quinnipiac Plaintiffs Certified as Class Action

A district court judge in Connecticut ruled last week granted class action status to a lawsuit filed by Quinnipiac volleyball players who are suing for a permanent injunction against Title IX violations that would result from the university's decision to terminate their team. The plaintiffs (the volleyball players) petitioned for a class action certification, which would allow them to represent:
a class of all present, prospective, and future female students who are harmed by and want to end [Quinnipiac University's] sex discrimination in: (1) the allocation of athletic participation opportunities; (2) the allocation of athletic financial assistance; and (3) the allocation of benefits provided to varsity athletes. They also file this action on behalf of females who are deterred from enrolling at [Quinnipiac] because of the sex discrimination in its athletic program, including its failure to offer the varsity sports in which they want to participate (despite [Quinnipiac's] failure to provide equal athletic participation opportunities to females).
To grant the plaintiff's motion to certify a class, the judge had to find that the class members were ascertainable (which is not the same as ascertained), too numerous to file as individual plaintiffs, must be similarly affected by the legal questions raised in the case, and that class members interests will be adequately represented by the named plaintiffs. Not surprisingly, the judge found that the Quinnipiac plaintiffs satisfied this standard.

Class actions are fairly common in Title IX cases. Cohen v. Brown was a class action, as was the female wrestlers' case against UC Davis and the female athletes' case against Slippery Rock (to name a couple). Class action posture helps ensure that the plaintiff's claims for prospective relief (such as a permanent injunction like the Quinnipiac players are seeking) doesn't become moot when the named plaintiffs graduate.

Next up in the Quinnipiac litigation is the bench trial, scheduled to begin on June 20.

The judge's order can be found at 2010 WL 2017773 (D. Conn. May 20, 2010)