Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jury Sides With School District in Basketball Hazing Case

Earlier this month, a federal jury in Tennessee delivered a verdict in favor the Rutherford County Board of Education, which had been sued by the family of three girls who alleged they were harassed and retaliated against when they complained that another member of their high school girls basketball team had poking them in the buttocks (a practice described during the litigation as "goosing" or "cornholing").  In August of this year, we noted that a federal judge had cleared the way for trial by denying the board's motion for summary judgment, a ruling that the plaintiffs could potentially prevail if their evidence was persuasive to a jury.  But after the trial was held this month, the jury was apparently not persuaded that school officials responded inadequately to their reports of the incident, and that they had appropriately disciplined the offending player.  Jurors apparently also believed the school's explanation that the girls had been kicked off the team for missing practice, not in retaliation.   According to the press, one of the plaintiffs six claims did prevail but the jury found damages in the amount of only one dollar.  (The court records are sealed because of the minor status of the plaintiffs, so I could not investigate further as to which claim this may have been.)