In an important appellate victory for six former members of the women’s lacrosse team at Fresno State, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the district court’s orders denying class certification, paving the way for the lawsuit to continue on behalf of all female student-athletes at the university.
First filed in 2021, the lawsuit alleged Fresno State violated Title IX by depriving women of equal opportunities to participate in varsity athletics and equal treatment and benefits. In February 2022, the women sought certification as a class action on behalf of all female student-athletes and/or potential athletes at the school. However, the district court twice denied certification, finding an inherent conflict between athletes who played on different teams.
The Ninth Circuit disagreed, finding the lower court “clearly erred” by holding such a conflict exists as to the equal opportunities claim. The court reached a similar conclusion as to the equal treatment claim, holding the district court erred by failing to analyze it separately.
“Today, the Ninth Circuit opened a door the district court twice tried to slam shut. In a real sense, this order vindicates the brave young women who stood up and demanded that Fresno State provide what Title IX promises—equality,” said BG partner Joshua I. Hammack, who briefed and argued the appeal. “The court confirmed that those who seek equality are not in conflict with those who stand to benefit from it. The fight isn’t over, of course, but today is an important step toward justice.”
In addition to Hammack, the Plaintiffs are represented by lead counsel and Title IX team leader Arthur Bryant, and partners Cary Joshi and Lori Bullock of Bailey Glasser, and Cynthia Chapman, Mike Caddell, and Amy Tabor of Caddell & Chapman.
To read the full press release and Ninth Circuit opinion, please visit here.