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Case Name Gordon v. Jordan School District ED-UT-0002
Docket / Court 2:17-cv-00677 ( D. Utah )
State/Territory Utah
Case Type(s) Education
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Case Summary
On June 23, 2017, six parents of schoolchildren who attend schools within the Jordan, Granite, and Canyons School Districts in Utah filed this class action lawsuit against their respective school districts, those districts’ superintendents, and the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) ... read more >
On June 23, 2017, six parents of schoolchildren who attend schools within the Jordan, Granite, and Canyons School Districts in Utah filed this class action lawsuit against their respective school districts, those districts’ superintendents, and the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) in the U.S. District Court for Utah. The lead plaintiff helped start a recreational-girls only tackle football league, which had approximately 200 participants in spring 2017. Plaintiffs alleged sex discrimination because their school districts did not afford equal opportunities and protection for female students with respect to school athletics teams. They sought injunctive relief as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. Represented by private counsel, the parents sued under Title IX and 42 U.S. § 1983, alleging violations of the Equal Protection Clause. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the school districts and UHSAA did not make available the same kinds of athletic opportunities, including football, to female students and thus, discriminated against female students. The parents alleged three violations under Title IX: (1) failure to provide contact sports; (2) failure to provide equal accommodation; and (3) failure to provide equal treatment. The Title IX counts were alleged against the school districts, and the § 1983 counts were alleged against both the school districts and UHSAA. Judge Clark Waddoups was initially assigned to the case but recused himself due to a conflict, after which Judge Robert J. Shelby was assigned.

Plaintiffs initially sought class certification with respect to two groups: (1) all current and prospective female students within these three school districts and (2) all current and female students within these three school districts who do participate, seek to participate, or are deterred from participating in sports that their school districts do not offer. They also sought partial summary judgment.

On February 8, 2018, the plaintiffs amended their complaint so that one of the parent-plaintiffs could represent another one of their children. On February 13, 2018, the Court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment on specific components – regarding the disparity of male and female sports as well as the Districts’ lack of history or a continuing practice of expanding sports – of their equal accommodation claim. On February 26, 2018, discovery began, and, after a series of revisions to the schedule, was scheduled to end on July 8, 2019.

On May 21, 2018, the defendants moved for reconsideration of the court’s granting partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs. This was denied on July 17, 2018.

On June 7, 2018, the parents amended their complaint to redefine the classes that the plaintiffs sought to represent. The parents narrowed the classes and re-alleged the complaint on behalf of (1) all current and future female students who do participate, seek to participate, or are deterred from participating in athletics and (2) all current and future female students who seek to participate or are deterred from participating in high school girls’ football.

On October 9, 2018, Judge Shelby granted in part but denied in part the parents’ motion to certify the class made on May 22, 2018. 2018 WL 4899098. Specifically, the Court denied class certification relating to all Title IX claims and to the first and broader class of all current and future female students who are participating or might participate in athletics. The Court reasoned that the former set of claims were too individualized of queries that required gauging interest level at the respective high schools. Additionally, the Court denied class certification for the first and broader class because it found no ascertainable number of potential class members and thus, the class failed the the numerosity requirement. The class was certified as current and future female students who seek to participate or were deterred from participating in high school girls’ football and their § 1983 claims.

Twice more, on February 20, 2019, and May 20, 2019, the plaintiffs moved to amend their complaint; however, each time the court denied the motion. 2019 WL 7517396; 333 F.R.D. 220.

On February 20, 2019, the plaintiffs also moved to conduct a survey regarding female student interest in football. On April 29, 2019, Magistrate Judge Dustin B. Pead granted in part and denied in part the motion. 2019 WL 7546140. However, the defendants moved on February 3, 2020, to stay or deny the request for a survey. The court granted the defendants’ motion on June 1, 2020.

On June 14, 2019, the case was reassigned to Judge Howard C. Nielson, Jr.

On May 24, 2019, the plaintiffs moved for summary judgment. Similarly, UHSAA moved for summary judgment on October 28, 2019. The school districts and their superintendents concurrently moved for summary judgment on the same day, October 28, 2019. These cross-motions were mostly denied on June 1, 2020. The Court only granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment on its Title IX claims against Canyons School District and their equal treatment claim as to all the defendant school districts.

The parties continued to prepare for trial and then, from September 8, 2020 to September 25, 2020 a bench trial took place. Following the trial, the parties made their closing arguments on October 28, 2020. As of February 19, 2021, the Court has yet to rule on the case. This case is ongoing.

Matthew Feng - 02/19/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.
Defendant(s) Canyons School District
Granite School District
Jordan School District
Utah High School Activities Association
Plaintiff Description Six parents of seven students across three Utah school districts suing on behalf of current and former female students of the school districts who seek to participate in or were deterred from participating in girls' football
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 06/23/2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
D. Utah
11/24/2020
2:17-cv-00677-HCN-DBP
ED-UT-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Utah
06/23/2017
Complaint [ECF# 2] (2017 WL 2773695)
ED-UT-0002-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D. Utah
06/07/2018
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 76] (2018 WL 10809407)
ED-UT-0002-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
D. Utah
10/09/2018
Memorandum Decision and Order Granting in Part Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify Class [ECF# 115] (2018 WL 4899098)
ED-UT-0002-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Nielson, Howard Curtis Jr. (D. Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Pead, Dustin B Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Shelby, Robert James (D. Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Correll, Michelle (California) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-0001 | ED-UT-0002-0002
Dever, Tyler Anne (Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Fonnesbeck, Jacob L (Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-0001 | ED-UT-0002-0002 | ED-UT-0002-9000
Gordon, Brent (Idaho) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Jordan, Trinity S (Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Smith, Mark L (California) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-0001 | ED-UT-0002-0002 | ED-UT-0002-9000
Washburn, D Loren (Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-0001 | ED-UT-0002-0002 | ED-UT-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Goff, Darin B (Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Lehr, Michael S (Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Lott, Philip S. (Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Parry, D Craig (Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Stroud, S Shane (Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Terry, Rachel G (Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Teter, Michael (Indiana) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000
Van Wagon, Mark O (Utah) show/hide docs
ED-UT-0002-9000

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