Case: Westfield High Sch. L.I.F.E. Club v. Westfield Pub. Sch.

3:03-cv-30008 | U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts

Filed Date: Jan. 13, 2003

Closed Date: 2003

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On January 13, 2003, several student members of the Westfield High School L.I.F.E. Club filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, against the City of Westfield, Massachusetts. The complaint alleged that the defendant violated the plaintiffs' freedom of speech, assembly, and free exercise of religion under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause, and unlawfull…

On January 13, 2003, several student members of the Westfield High School L.I.F.E. Club filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, against the City of Westfield, Massachusetts. The complaint alleged that the defendant violated the plaintiffs' freedom of speech, assembly, and free exercise of religion under the First Amendment's Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause, and unlawfully discriminated against them based on the religious content of their speech in violation of the Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. § 4071, and the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. The plaintiffs also alleged violation of their freedom of expression under Massachusetts state law. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly "Alliance Defense Fund"), a Christian non-profit organization, requested a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and damages.

More specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that Westfield High School's policies and practices which prohibited and punished them for distributing religious literature, were discriminatory, content-based, vague, and acted as an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech. The alleged discrimination began during the 2001-2002 school year, when the plaintiffs were denied permission to distribute candy canes along with a religious story of the candy cane and Bible verses, to students at the school during non-instructional time. In 2002, the plaintiffs were again denied permission to distribute the literature, on the basis that the material was "offensive." The plaintiffs distributed the materials with the religious content anyway and were suspended as a consequence.

On January 13, 2003, along with their complaint, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction, requesting the Court enjoin the defendants from enforcing the allegedly unconstitutional policies and the suspensions on the plaintiffs. Both the ACLU of Massachusetts and the United States filed briefs as amici curiae in support of the plaintiffs' motion, on February 26 and February 20, respectively. Following a hearing, the District Court (Judge Frank H. Freedman) granted the plaintiffs' motion on March 17. Westfield High Sch. L.I.F.E. Club v. City of Westfield, 249 F. Supp. 2d 98, 108-109, 127-28 (D. Mass. 2003).

On April 7, 2003, the defendants filed a motion to stay, which the Court denied on April 16. On April 16, the plaintiffs amended their complaint to add the City of Westfield as a defendant and remove Westfield Public Schools as a party. The plaintiffs also moved for summary judgment.

On June 13, 2003, the Court entered a stipulation of dismissal of the claims against the individual defendants.

On June 16, 2003, the Court entered a consent decree, which proclaimed that the defendants had replaced the school speech policies with new agreed-upon rules. The defendants also agreed to rescind punishment of the plaintiffs for the distribution of the religious materials, remove prior restraints and content-based restrictions of distribution of materials during non-instructional time without complying with substantive and procedural safeguards, so long as distribution doesn't substantially and materially disrupt the operation of the school or the new policies. The plaintiffs were awarded $28,500 in attorneys' fees and costs and the case was closed.

Summary Authors

Stella Cernak (3/14/2014)

People


Judge(s)

Freedman, Frank Harlan (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Emmons, Bertin C. (Massachusetts)

Oster, Joel L. (Kansas)

Stanley, Erik William (Florida)

Staver, Anita L (Florida)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Martin, Peter H. (Massachusetts)

Mulvaney, Edward P. (Massachusetts)

Thompson, Claire L (Massachusetts)

Other Attorney(s)

Active

Active

Judge(s)

Freedman, Frank Harlan (Massachusetts)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Emmons, Bertin C. (Massachusetts)

Oster, Joel L. (Kansas)

Stanley, Erik William (Florida)

Staver, Anita L (Florida)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Martin, Peter H. (Massachusetts)

Mulvaney, Edward P. (Massachusetts)

Thompson, Claire L (Massachusetts)

Other Attorney(s)

Berman, Amy I. (District of Columbia)

Caspar, Edward G. (District of Columbia)

Glassman, Jeremiah (District of Columbia)

Marshall, Franz (District of Columbia)

Newman, William C. (Massachusetts)

Pyle, Jeffrey Jackson (Massachusetts)

Treene, Eric W. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Westfield High Sch. v. Westfield Pub. Sch.

March 4, 2009 Docket
1

Verified Complaint for Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, Declaratory Relief and Damages

Westfield High School Life Club v. Westfield Public Schools

Jan. 13, 2003 Complaint
38

Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction (249 F. Supp. 2d 98)

Westfield High School L.I.F.E. Club v. City of Westfield

March 17, 2003 Order/Opinion
43

Second Verified Amended Complaint

Westfield High School L.I.F.E. Club v. City of Westfield

April 16, 2003 Complaint
54

Order Entering Plaintiffs' Consent Decree

Westfield High School L.I.F.E. Club v. City of Westfield

June 16, 2003 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

Complaint filed. Case assigned to Judge: Kenneth P. Neiman. Receipt #: 305099. Amount:$ 150.00. Fee Status: Paid. Mag/Judge Consent Form, LR 4.1, notice of lawsuit and waiver of service of summons to Counsel. (mef) (Entered: 01/13/2003)

Jan. 13, 2003

Summons issued for Westfield Pub. Sch., Thomas Y. McDowell, Thomas W. Daley (mef) (Entered: 01/13/2003)

Jan. 13, 2003
2

Ps' Motion for Erik W. Stanley to appear pro hac vice. Fee Status: Paid. Fee Amt: $50.00. Receipt #: 305099 filed. (mef) (Entered: 01/13/2003)

Jan. 13, 2003
3

Ps' Motion by for Mathew D. Staver to appear pro hac vice. Fee Status: Paid. Fee Amt: 5$0.00. Receipt #: 305099. filed. (mef) (Entered: 01/13/2003)

Jan. 13, 2003
4

Ps' Motion by for Anita L. Staver to appear pro hac vice. Fee Status: Paid. Fee Amt: $50.00. Receipt #: 305099. , filed. (mef) (Entered: 01/13/2003)

Jan. 13, 2003
5

Ps' Motion for Joel L. Oster to appear pro hac vice. Fee Status: Paid. Fee Amt: $50.00. Receipt #: 305099. , filed. (mef) (Entered: 01/13/2003)

Jan. 13, 2003
6

Motion by Westfield High Sch., Stephen Grabowski, Timothy Souza, Daniel Souza, Sharon Sitler, Paul Sitler, Dustin Cooper for P.I. filed. (mef) (Entered:

Jan. 13, 2003
8

Motion by Westfield High Sch., Stephen Grabowski, Timothy Souza, Daniel Souza, Sharon Sitler, Paul Sitler, Dustin Cooper for waiver of posting a Security Bond in obtaining a Preliminary Injunction , filed. (mef) (Entered: 01/13/2003)

Jan. 13, 2003
9

Memorandum by Westfield High Sch., Stephen Grabowski, Timothy Souza, Daniel Souza, Sharon Sitler, Paul Sitler, Dustin Cooper in support of [8−1] motion for waiver of posting a Security Bond in obtaining a Preliminary Injunction , filed. (mef) (Entered: 01/13/2003)

Jan. 13, 2003

Judge Michael A. Ponsor . Endorsed Order entered granting [2−1] motion for Erik W. Stanley to appear pro hac vice; cc/cl. [EOD Date 1/14/03] (mef) (Entered: 01/14/2003)

Jan. 14, 2003

Judge Michael A. Ponsor . Endorsed Order entered granting [3−1] motion for Mathew D. Staver to appear pro hac vice; cc/cl. [EOD Date 1/14/03] (mef) (Entered: 01/14/2003)

Jan. 14, 2003

Judge Michael A. Ponsor . Endorsed Order entered granting [4−1] motion for Anita L. Staver to appear pro hac vice; cc/cl. [EOD Date 1/14/03] (mef) (Entered: 01/14/2003)

Jan. 14, 2003

Judge Michael A. Ponsor . Endorsed Order entered granting [5−1] motion for Joel L. Oster to appear pro hac vice; cc/cl. [EOD Date 1/14/03] (mef) (Entered: 01/14/2003)

Jan. 14, 2003
10

Not all parties consenting to assignment to Magistrate Judge Neiman. Case to be redrawn for random assignment to District Judge. (mgl) (Entered: 01/15/2003)

Jan. 15, 2003
11

Notice of case assignment. Case reassigned from Judge Neiman to Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman . cc/cl (mgl) (Entered: 01/15/2003)

Jan. 15, 2003
12

Dft's Motion by Westfield Pub. Sch., Thomas Y. McDowell, Thomas W. Daley to extend time to 2/10/03 to file its opposition to motion for preliminary injunction and answer to complaint , filed. c/s (mgl) (Entered: 01/22/2003)

Jan. 21, 2003
13

Notice of appearance of attorney for Westfield Pub. Sch., Thomas Y. McDowell, Thomas W. Daley by Claire L. Thompson, filed. c/s (mgl) (Entered: 01/22/2003)

Jan. 21, 2003

Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman . Endorsed Order entered granting [12−1] motion to extend time to 2/10/03 to file its opposition to motion for preliminary injunction and answer to complaint, set answer due for 2/10/03 for Thomas W. Daley, for Thomas Y. McDowell, for Westfield Pub. Sch. , Response to motion reset to 2/10/03 for [6−1] motion for P.I. . [EOD Date 1/24/03] (jcs) (Entered: 01/24/2003)

Jan. 24, 2003

Motion hearing re: [6−1] motion for P.I. at 10:00 2/25/03 (jcs) (Entered: 01/24/2003)

Jan. 24, 2003
14

Return of service executed as to Westfield Pub. Sch., Thomas Y. McDowell, Thomas W. Daley w/s/o 1/14/2003 filed. Answer due on 2/3/03 for Thomas W. Daley, for Thomas Y. McDowell, for Westfield Pub. Sch. (mef) (Entered: 01/27/2003)

Jan. 27, 2003
15

Ps' Notice of Filing of returns of service on the Defts. filed. (mef) (Entered: 01/27/2003)

Jan. 27, 2003
16

Notice of appearance of attorney for Westfield High Sch., Stephen Grabowski, Timothy Souza, Daniel Souza, Sharon Sitler, Paul Sitler, Dustin Cooper by Mathew D. Staver, filed. (bah) (Entered: 01/28/2003)

Jan. 27, 2003
17

Notice of appearance of attorney for Westfield High Sch., Stephen Grabowski, Timothy Souza, Daniel Souza, Sharon Sitler, Paul Sitler, Dustin Cooper by Erik W. Stanley, filed. (bah) (Entered: 01/28/2003)

Jan. 27, 2003
19

Notice of appearance of attorney for Westfield High Sch., Stephen Grabowski, Timothy Souza, Daniel Souza, Sharon Sitler, Paul Sitler, Dustin Cooper by Anita L. Staver, filed. (bah) (Entered: 01/28/2003)

Jan. 27, 2003
20

Dft's Motion by Westfield Pub. Sch., Thomas Y. McDowell, Thomas W. Daley to extend time to 2/14/03 to file its opposition to plantiff motion for preliminar injuntion , filed. c/s (mgl) (Entered: 02/07/2003)

Feb. 7, 2003
21

Pltfs' Response in opposition to [20−1] motion to extend time to 2/14/03 to file its opposition to plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injuntion , filed. (jcs) (Entered: 02/10/2003)

Feb. 10, 2003
22

Answer by Westfield Pub. Sch., Thomas Y. McDowell to complaint; jury demand, filed. (mef) (Entered: 02/10/2003)

Feb. 10, 2003

Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman . Endorsed Order entered granting [20−1]; cc/cl. Ds' resp. to motion reset to 2/14/2003 for [6−1] motion for P.I. . [EOD Date 2/11/03] (mef) (Entered: 02/11/2003)

Feb. 11, 2003
23

Motion by Thomas W. Daley to ext. time to 2/13/2003 to resp. to the complaint. , filed. (mef) (Entered: 02/11/2003)

Feb. 11, 2003

Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman . Endorsed Order entered granting [23−1]; cc/cl. Reset answer due for 2/13/2003 for Thomas W. Daley . [EOD Date 2/11/03] (mef) (Entered: 02/11/2003)

Feb. 11, 2003
24

Answer by Thomas W. Daley to complaint; jury demand, filed. (mgl) (Entered: 02/13/2003)

Feb. 13, 2003
25

Notice of appearance of attorney for Thomas W. Daley by , filed. c/s (mgl) (Entered: 02/13/2003)

Feb. 13, 2003
26

Memorandum of law by Dft's Westfield Pub. Sch., Thomas Y. McDowell in opposition to Ptf's [6−1] motion for P.I. , filed. c/s (mgl) (Entered: 02/14/2003)

Feb. 14, 2003
27

Motion by U.S.A. for leave to file Amicus Curiae Brief , filed. (mef) (Entered: 02/20/2003)

Feb. 20, 2003

Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman . Endorsed Order entered granting [27−1] motion for leave to file Amicus Curiae Brief; cc/cl. [EOD Date 2/20/03] (mef) (Entered: 02/20/2003)

Feb. 20, 2003
28

Amicus Curiae Brief by U.S.A. filed in support of Ps' motion for P.I. filed. (mef) (Entered: 02/20/2003)

Feb. 20, 2003
29

Motion by ACLUM for leave to file memorandum of law as amicus curiae , filed. c/s (mgl) (Entered: 02/21/2003)

Feb. 21, 2003
30

Notice of appearance of attorney for ACLUM by Jeffery J. Pyle, filed. c/s (mgl) (Entered: 02/21/2003)

Feb. 21, 2003
31

Notice of appearance of attorney for ACLUM by William C. Newman, filed. c/s (mgl) (Entered: 02/21/2003)

Feb. 21, 2003
32

Notice of Supplemental authority by Westfield High Sch., Stephen Grabowski, Timothy Souza, Daniel Souza, Sharon Sitler, Paul Sitler, Dustin Cooper, filed. c/s (mgl) (Entered: 02/24/2003)

Feb. 24, 2003
33

Supplemental Affidavit of Sharon Sitler, re: in support of Ptf's [6−1] motion for P.I. , filed. (mgl) (Entered: 02/24/2003)

Feb. 24, 2003
34

Ptf's Supplemental Affidavit of Timothy Souza, Daniel Souza , re: in support of Ptf's [6−1] motion for P.I. , filed. (mgl) (Entered: 02/24/2003)

Feb. 24, 2003

Motion hearing re: [6−1] motion for P.I. Motion hearing held (mef) (Entered: 02/25/2003)

Feb. 25, 2003

Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman . Endorsed Order entered granting [29−1] motion for leave to file memorandum of law as amicus curiae; cc/cl. [EOD Date 2/26/03] (mef) (Entered: 02/26/2003)

Feb. 26, 2003
36

Memorandum Amicus Curiae brief by ACLUM in support of Ps' motion for P.I. filed. (mef) (Entered: 02/26/2003)

Feb. 26, 2003
37

Amended complaint by Westfield High Sch., Stephen Grabowski, Timothy Souza, Daniel Souza, Sharon Sitler, Paul Sitler, Dustin Cooper filed. (Answer due 3/20/03 for City of Westfield, for Thomas W. Daley, for Thomas Y. McDowell ) . Amended complaint amends [1−1] complaint ; adding . (mgl) (Entered: 03/11/2003)

March 10, 2003
38

Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman . Memorandum and Order entered. The Court GRANTS the Pltfs' motion for preliminary injunction − [6−1] and motion for waiver of security bond − [8−1]; cc/cl. [EOD Date 3/17/03] (mef) (Entered: 03/17/2003)

March 17, 2003
39

Answer by Thomas Y. McDowell, City of Westfield to amended complaint, filed.; jury demand c/s (mgl) (Entered: 03/17/2003)

March 17, 2003
40

Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman . Notice of Conference: Set Pretrial Scheduling Conf. for 10:00 A.M. on 4/22/2003; cc/cl. . (mef) (Entered: 03/18/2003)

March 18, 2003
41

Motion by Thomas Y. McDowell, Thomas W. Daley, City of Westfield to stay , filed. c/s (mgl) (Entered: 04/08/2003)

April 7, 2003
42

Ps' Memorandum in opposition to [41−1] motion to stay and in support of their motion to postpone the scheduling conf. filed. (mef) (Entered: 04/16/2003)

April 16, 2003
43

SECOND VERIFIED Amended complaint by Westfield High Sch., Stephen Grabowski, Timothy Souza, Daniel Souza, Sharon Sitler, Paul Sitler, Dustin Cooper filed. (Answer due 4/26/03 for City of Westfield, Thomas W. Daley, Thomas Y. McDowell). Amended complaint amends [37−1] amended complaint. (mef) (Entered: 04/16/2003)

April 16, 2003
44

Ps' Motion for S/J on each of the five counts set forth in the Second Amended Complaint − [43−1] filed. (mef) (Entered: 04/16/2003)

April 16, 2003
45

Ps' Memorandum in support of [44−1] motion for S/J on each of the five counts set forth in the Second Amended − [43−1] filed. (mef) (Entered: 04/16/2003)

April 16, 2003
46

Ps' Appendix/exhibits in support of of [44−1] motion for S/J on each of the five counts set forth in the Second Amended − [43−1] , filed. (mef) (Entered: 04/16/2003)

April 16, 2003

Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman . Endorsed Order entered denying [41−1] motion to stay. Based on the filing of Ps' motion for S/J the scheduling conf. set for 4/22/2003 has been continued; cc/cl.. Terminated 4/22/2003 scheduling conf. deadline. [EOD Date 4/16/03] (mef) (Entered: 04/16/2003)

April 16, 2003
47

STIPULATION (Motion) by Thomas Y. McDowell, Thomas W. Daley, City of Westfield to ext. time to 5/07/2003 to file their opp. to the Pltfs' motion for S/J filed. (mef) (Entered: 04/24/2003)

April 23, 2003

Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman . Endorsed Order entered granting [47−1]; cc/cl. Ds' resp. to motion reset to 5/7/2003 for [44−1] motion for S/J on each of the five counts set forth in the Second Amended − [43−1] . [EOD Date 4/24/03] (mef) (Entered: 04/24/2003)

April 23, 2003
48

Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman. Sixty (60) Day Settlement Order of Dismissal entered by the Court; cc/cl. [EOD Date 5/7/03] (mef) (Entered: 05/07/2003)

May 7, 2003
49

Motion by ACLUM to strike non−essential portions of the [38−1] Memorandum and Order , filed. (mef) (Entered: 05/14/2003)

May 14, 2003
50

Ptf's Opposition RESPONSE to Dft's 49 Motion to Strike portion of memo. filed by Dustin Cooper, Stephen Grabowski, Paul Sitler, Sharon Sitler, Daniel Souza. (Lindsay, Maurice) (Entered: 06/02/2003)

June 2, 2003

Judge Frank H. Freedman : EnsorsedORDER entered denying 49 Motion to Strike portions of [38−1] Memorandum and Order dated 3/17/2003; cc/cl. (Finn, Mary) (Entered: 06/09/2003)

June 9, 2003
51

STIPULATION of Dismissal by Dustin Cooper, Thomas W. Daley, Stephen Grabowski, Thomas Y. McDowell, Paul Sitler, Sharon Sitler, Daniel Souza, Timothy Souza as to defts' Daley and McDowell in their individual and official capacities. (Stuckenbruck, John) (Entered: 06/13/2003)

June 13, 2003
52

MOTION entry of consent decree by City of Westfield, Dustin Cooper, Paul Sitler, Sharon Sitler, Daniel Souza, Timothy Souza, Westfield Public Schools.(Stuckenbruck, John) (Entered: 06/13/2003)

June 13, 2003
53

Judge Frank H. Freedman : EndorsedORDER entered granting 52 Motion for entry of Consent Decree; cc/cl. (Finn, Mary) (Entered: 06/16/2003)

June 16, 2003
54

Judge Frank H. Freedman : ORDER entered CONSENT DECREEE entered for the Pltfs.; cc/cl.(Finn, Mary) (Entered: 06/16/2003)

June 16, 2003

Notice of correction to docket made by Court staff. Correction: document 55 Order corrected because: document deleted due to being docketed in the incorrect case. (Finn, Mary) (Entered: 03/04/2009)

March 4, 2009

State / Territory: Massachusetts

Case Type(s):

Education

Key Dates

Filing Date: Jan. 13, 2003

Closing Date: 2003

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Several high school students who were prohibited from distributing religious literature to fellow students during non-instructional time during the school day.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

The City of Westfield, City

Defendant Type(s):

Elementary/Secondary School

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

State law

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Establishment Clause

Free Exercise Clause

Freedom of speech/association

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: 28,500.00

Order Duration: 2003 - 0

Content of Injunction:

Discrimination Prohibition

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

Discrimination-basis:

Religion discrimination

Type of Facility:

Government-run