United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Z.T., a minor child by and through his Parents and guardians R.T. and L.T., Plaintiff,
Minnesota State High School League, and Craig Perry, Defendants.
T. Smith, Esq. and Huffman, Usem, Crawford & Greenberg,
PA, counsel for plaintiff.
M. Beck, Esq. and Kelly & Lemmons, PA, counsel for
S. Doty, Judge
matter is before the court upon the motion for a temporary
restraining order (TRO) or preliminary injunction by
plaintiff Z.T., by and through his parents R.T. and L.T. The
court denied the motion from the bench with this written
order to follow.
civil-rights dispute arises from the determination by
defendants Minnesota State high School League (MSHSL) and
MSHSL Associate Director Craig Perry that Z.T. is ineligible
to compete in varsity interscholastic hockey competition
until January 10, 2017.
currently attends Winona High School in Winona, Minnesota.
L.T. Aff. ¶ 2. He commenced his ninth-grade year at
Winona High School in the fall of 2014. Id. ¶
3. On January 10, 2015, Z.T. transferred from Winona to the
Outdoor Academy, a semester school that combines academics
with a focus on the environment. Id. ¶ 4, Ex.
A. The Outdoor Academy does not have an athletic program and
is not a member of the MSHSL. Id. ¶ 4. Z.T.
attended the Outdoor Academy until June 2015 and transferred
back to Winona High School in August 2015. Id.
MSHSL bylaws, a transfer student is eligible for
participation in varsity competition if (1) “the
student was in good standing on the date of withdrawal from
the last school the student attended” and (2) one of
the provisions under bylaw 111.00 Subsection B is
Smith Aff. Ex. A at 21. If these conditions are not met, the
transfer student is ineligible for a period of one year
beginning with the first day of attendance at the new school.
Id. at 22. If, during the one-year suspension, the
student again transfers to another school and none of the
conditions for eligibility are met, the student will serve
another one-year suspension immediately following the first
to the bylaws, MSHSL determined that Z.T. was ineligible for
varsity competition until January 10, 2017. In January 2016,
L.T., Z.T.'s father, emailed Perry requesting that MSHSL
reconsider Z.T.'s eligibility for varsity competition
because Winona did not have enough players to field a junior
varsity hockey team. L.T. Aff. Ex. B. L.T. also stated his
belief that there was no further appeals process available.
Id. Perry responded that MSHSL had correctly
determined Z.T.'s eligibility and that he could not grant
varsity eligibility. Id.
summer of 2016, L.T. learned that he could appeal MSHSL's
eligibility determination, and the Winona High School
activities director submitted Z.T.'s appeal. Id.
¶¶ 11-12. MSHSL responded by providing a notice of
fair hearing to be held on August 31, 2016. Id.
¶ 13. At the hearing, the officer supported MSHSL's
determination that Z.T. was ineligible for varsity
competition. See Smith Aff. Ex C. Subsequent to the
hearing, Z.T., through counsel, made a request to speak to
the MSHSL eligibility committee, which was granted. Perry
Aff. ¶ 45. After the discussion, the eligibility
committee voted unanimously to adopt the hearing
officer's recommendation, and the MSHSL board of
directors adopted the recommendation on October 6, 2016.
October 28, Z.T. filed suit in Minnesota district court
alleging deprivation of property without due process, breach
of contract, and negligent misrepresentation. Defendants
timely removed. See ECF No. 1. On November 4, Z.T.
filed this motion for a TRO or preliminary injunction
requiring MSHSL to allow him to compete at the varsity level
immediately. See ECF No. 7. The court denied the
motion from the bench. In so ruling, the court relied on the
four factors in Dataphase Sys., Inc. v. C.L. Sys.,
Inc., 640 F.2d 109, 114 (8th Cir. 1981). The court
provides further analysis for its decision here.
or a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary equitable
remedy, and the movant bears the burden of establishing its
propriety. Watkins Inc. v. Lewis, 346 F.3d 841, 844
(8th Cir. 2003). The purpose of such injunctive relief is to
“preserve the status quo until the merits [of the case]
are determined.” Dataphase, 640 F.2d at 113.
In determining whether a TRO or preliminary injunction should
issue, the court considers: (1) the threat of irreparable
harm to the movant in the absence of relief; (2) the balance
between the harm to the movant in the absence of relief and
the harm that the relief may cause the non-moving party; (3)
the likelihood of the movant's ultimate success on the
merits; and (4) the public interest. Id. at 114.
Likelihood of ...