University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Paton v. New Mexico Highlands University ED-NM-0001
Docket / Court 1:97-cv-01360-JEC-ACT ( D.N.M. )
State/Territory New Mexico
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
On October 21, 1997, several coaches and female student athletes filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico against New Mexico Highlands University. The plaintiffs, represented by public interest attorneys, claimed that NMHU violated state law, 42 ... read more >
On October 21, 1997, several coaches and female student athletes filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico against New Mexico Highlands University. The plaintiffs, represented by public interest attorneys, claimed that NMHU violated state law, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Title IX by denying them equitable access to athletic scholarship funding and other benefits including equipment, supplies, locker rooms, travel, coaching, publicity, and facilities. The athletes sought injunctive relief and damages.

On November 8, 1999, the District Court (District Judge John E. Conway) defined the class as all "present and future female students who participate as athletes in intercollegiate athletics."

The trial began on November 15, 1999. Before the matter was submitted to the jury, the court granted defendants' motion to decertify the class, concluding that trial testimony had demonstrated that no named plaintiff was a member of the class on the date the motion for class certification was filed. The jury thereafter returned a verdict awarding compensatory damages to the named plaintiffs. Plaintiffs filed motions seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and reconsideration of the class decertification order. Both motions were denied and plaintiffs appealed.

On January 9, 2002, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Circuit Judges Murphy, Hall, and Porfilio) reversed the District Court's orders decertifying the class and denying plaintiffs' motion for injunctive and declaratory relief, remanding the case to the District Court to enter an order certifying the class and for further proceedings on the request for declaratory and injunctive relief. Paton v. N.M. Highlands Univ., 275 F.3d 1274 (9th Cir. 2002). The injunctive relief was ordered by the District Court (District Judge John Edwards Conway) on February 8, 2002, whereupon parties engaged in a series of settlement negotiations that ended in 2007 with no resolution recognized by the District Court.

On Feb. 15, 2012, the District Court (District Judge Conway) entered an order directing plaintiff to show cause, if plaintiff so had, within fourteen days of the order, why the instant case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. Plaintiff failed to respond to the order, and the District Court (District Judge Conway) dismissed the claims in this action with prejudice on March 8, 2012.

Heather Turner - 06/06/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
College/University
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Failure to train
Funding
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) New Mexico Highlands University
Plaintiff Description University coaching staff and female student athletes, individually and on behalf of all those similarly situated
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Conditional Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Links Dear Colleague Letter: Athletic Activities Counted for Title IX Compliance
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html
Posted: Sep. 17, 2008
By: United States Department of Education—Office of Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:97-cv-1360 (D.N.M.) 03/08/2012
ED-NM-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Class Action Complaint 10/21/1997
ED-NM-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Denying Plaintiffs' Motions to Amend, Alter Judgment, and Include Declaratory and Injunctive, and for Reconsideration of Order Decertifying Class] 03/10/2000 (D.N.M.)
ED-NM-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Dismissing Petitions and Motion for Attorneys Fees and Costs 01/05/2001 (D.N.M.)
ED-NM-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit) 01/09/2002 (275 F.3d 1274)
ED-NM-0001-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Class Certification] 02/11/2002 (D.N.M.)
ED-NM-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Dismissing Case for Lack of Jurisdiction Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 41(b) 03/08/2012 (D.N.M.)
ED-NM-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Conway, John Edwards (FISC, D.N.M.)
ED-NM-0001-0002 | ED-NM-0001-0004 | ED-NM-0001-0005 | ED-NM-0001-0006 | ED-NM-0001-9000
Hall, Cynthia Holcomb (Ninth Circuit, C.D. Cal.)
ED-NM-0001-0001
Murphy, Michael R. (Tenth Circuit)
ED-NM-0001-0001
Porfilio, John Carbone (Tenth Circuit, D. Colo.)
ED-NM-0001-0001
Torgerson, Alan C. (D.N.M.) [Magistrate]
ED-NM-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Galles, Kristen Marie (Virginia)
ED-NM-0001-9000
Kantrowitz, Nancy (New Mexico)
ED-NM-0001-0003 | ED-NM-0001-9000
Vanzi, Linda M (New Mexico)
ED-NM-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers King, Rachel (New Mexico)
ED-NM-0001-9000
Long, Nancy Ruth (New Mexico)
ED-NM-0001-9000
Peters, Julia L. (New Mexico)
ED-NM-0001-9000
White, Timothy L. (New Mexico)
ED-NM-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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