On December 18, 2003, current and former female wrestlers at the University of California-Davis ("UC Davis") filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The plaintiffs sued UC Davis on behalf of all current and future female Davis students denied equal athletic participation opportunities and scholarships. The plaintiffs sought damages and injunctive relief under Title IX and also asserted equal protection claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
During the 2000-2001 academic year, Davis eliminated all women from the wrestling team. After the students protested to administrators and filed a complaint with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Davis agreed to permit women again to participate in varsity wrestling, conditioned on their ability to beat male wrestlers in their weight class, using men's collegiate wrestling rules. As a result of these new requirements, the female students were unable to qualify for the wrestling team and lost the benefits associated with varsity status, including scholarships and academic credit.
In April 2006, just before the scheduled hearing on class certification, the plaintiffs requested a stay due to their attorney's serious illness. During the ten-month stay, the only named plaintiff still attending Davis graduated. The plaintiffs moved to add as plaintiffs three students, all then enrolled at Davis. On March 20, 2007, the District Court (Judge Frank C. Damrell) denied the motion, holding that the plaintiffs failed to meet the good cause required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16 when such a motion is filed after the issuance of a scheduling order. Without any named plaintiffs currently attending Davis, the plaintiffs stipulated to dismissal of the class claims for injunctive relief.
In April 2008, the District Court dismissed the § 1983 claim as "subsumed" by the Title IX claim. The District Court then granted the University's motion for summary judgment, holding that the students had failed to perfect their Title IX claim by failing to give Davis advance notice and the opportunity to cure.
The plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit. On February 8, 2010, in a published opinion (amended on April 20, 2010), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that (1) the plaintiffs' challenge to the district court's denial of their motion to add additional plaintiffs was moot; (2) the plaintiffs were not required to give university notice and an opportunity to cure an alleged Title IX violation before bringing suit; (3) genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment on the plaintiffs' Title IX ineffective accommodation claim; (4) Title IX did not preclude claim under § 1983 to enforce rights under Equal Protection Clause; and (5) § 1983 claim was not barred by statute of limitations. The case was remanded for further proceedings consistent with the opinion. 602 F.3d 957 (9th Cir. 2010).
On December 8, 2010, the Court (Judge Frank C. Damrell, Jr.) denied the University's renewed motion for summary judgment. A fifteen day bench trial was held beginning May 2011.
On August 3, 2011, District Judge Frank C. Damrell, Jr., J., held that the university failed to effectively accommodate athletic interests and abilities of members of both sexes. However, the plaintiffs lost on their other theories of Title IX liability, as well as their Equal Protection Clause claims. Specifically, Judge Damrell held that (1) the university's failure to sponsor separate women's team did not contravene Title IX; (3) the assistant athletic director could not be held liable for alleged Equal Protection violations; and (4) other officials were entitled to qualified immunity as to alleged Equal Protection violations. 816 F. Supp. 2d 869 (E.D. Cal. 2011).
On December 8, 2011, the Court ordered this case be set for a settlement conference to decide damages. After months of negotiations, the parties and their counsels reached agreement on all major terms of the settlement. The university agreed to pay $1,350,000 in attorneys' fees and costs incurred during the lengthy case. On April 6, 2012, the action was dismissed without prejudice and the case was closed. Xin Chen - 10/02/2011
Maria Ricaurte - 10/18/2015