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WELCH v. BOARD OF DIRS. OF WILDWOOD GOLF CLUB

August 10, 1995

MARCIA WELCH, individually and on behalf of all others, similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF WILDWOOD GOLF CLUB and BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF STONE LODGE, INC., individually and in their official capacities, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEE

 AND NOW this 10th day of August, 1995, the Defendants having filed a motion for attorneys' fees (Document No. 330), the Plaintiffs having filed an objection to the motion for attorneys' fees (Document No. 351), and the Defendants having filed a reply to Plaintiffs' response (Document No. 358),

 It is the Court's finding that the appointment of a Special Master will best promote the mandate of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 1 "to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action." Therefore, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 53 and 54(d)(2)(D), and the inherent authority of this Court to supervise and administer pending cases, the Court hereby appoints John J. McLean, Jr., Esquire, Buchanan Ingersoll, Professional Corporation, 5800 USX Tower, 600 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, as Special Master.

 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 53, the Court shall fix the compensation to be allowed to the Special Master and shall direct the sum to be paid by a party or the parties as deemed appropriate.

 The appointment shall become final, unless objections are filed by any party on or before August 31, 1995.

 PRELIMINARY FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

 In connection with said referral, the Court makes the following preliminary Findings of Fact that Defendants, Board of Directors of Wildwood Golf Club and Board of Directors of Stone Lodge, Inc., individually and in their official capacities, are prevailing defendants who are entitled to attorneys' fees pursuant to Christiansburg Garment Co. v. EEOC, 434 U.S. 412, 54 L. Ed. 2d 648, 98 S. Ct. 694 (1978).

 PRELIMINARY FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Plaintiff Marcia Welch, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, filed this action on July 11, 1990, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985(3), and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 951, et seq. ("PHRA"). *fn1" The class was comprised of women members of Wildwood Golf Club and women spouses of Club members who had Club privileges during the period from July 11, 1988 to July 11, 1990. In their § 1983 claim, Plaintiffs contended that Defendants violated their constitutional rights, namely their rights to be free from sexual discrimination, to travel freely, to contract and to conduct business. Nominal plaintiff Marcia Welch ("Welch") also alleged that her right to effect a marital dissolution and equitable distribution of marital property by order of state court was also violated.

 Plaintiffs' § 1985(3) claim asserted that Defendants conspired to engage in the gender discriminatory conduct that the § 1983 claim was based on. Amended Complaint, P 2. Welch also brought a pendent state law claim, alleging tortious interference with her business relations and with prospective contractual relations. Amended Complaint, P 5.

 2. By Memorandum Opinion and Order dated February 16, 1995, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants on the claims for violations of §§ 1983 and 1985(3) and remanded plaintiff Welch's state law claim.

 3. The Court found that the record was devoid of any evidence that any Defendant was required or encouraged by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to deprive Plaintiffs of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution. Accordingly, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs' claims brought under § 1983 as they failed to establish that Defendants acted under color of state law.

 4. Plaintiffs' arguments that Defendants violated § 1983 were frivolous, unreasonable or without foundation.

 5. As to Plaintiffs' claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1985, the Court found that of the purported violations, only the right to travel has been recognized, and then in limited contexts, as a right protected against private interference. The Court found that Plaintiffs had failed to identify any competent evidence in the record that Defendants' actions interfered with Plaintiffs' right to interstate travel. On the contrary, the record ...


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