United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
EMILY ROBB, TARYN PIANO, KELLY GERRITY, TAYLOR PLOUSE, JACQUELYN BINGHAM, TAMIA ROACH, MACKENZIE FARLEY, and KAYLA BRATHWAITE, on behalf of themselves and all similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs,
LOCK HAVEN UNIVERSITY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge
of female collegiate athletes-swimmers and field hockey
players at Lock Haven University in Clinton County,
Pennsylvania-have filed this Title IX action over the
potential elimination, demotion, or reduction of certain of
the University's female athletics teams and their
resources. In addition to their Complaint, the women moved
for a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining certain of the
University's plans for the athletic department and
requiring it to pursue certain others. For the following
reasons, this Motion will be denied.
Rule of Civil Procedure 65 governs the granting of injunctive
relief such as temporary restraining orders and preliminary
injunctions. Such relief, however, is extraordinary in nature
and available only in limited circumstances.The United States
Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has outlined four
factors that a court ruling on a request for injunctive
relief must consider: (1) whether the movant has shown a
reasonable probability of success on the merits; (2) whether
the movant will be irreparably injured by denial of the
relief; (3) whether granting preliminary relief will result
in even greater harm to the nonmoving party; and (4) whether
granting the preliminary relief will be in the public
interest. These same factors apply with equal force
to a motion for a temporary restraining order.
Reilly v. City of Harrisburg, the Third Circuit
recently clarified the burden on a party seeking issuance of
a preliminary injunction. The Reilly Court specified
that a party seeking a preliminary injunction must first
demonstrate that: (1) “it can win on the merits (which
requires a showing significantly better than negligible but
not necessarily more likely than not), ” and (2),
“it is more likely than not to suffer irreparable harm
in the absence of preliminary relief.” The
Reilly Court continued that “[i]f these
gateway factors are met, a court then considers the remaining
two factors and determines in its sound discretion if all
four factors, taken together, balance in favor of granting
the requested preliminary relief.”
morning, the Court heard argument from both parties as to the
propriety of the motion for a temporary restraining order.
Unfortunately for Plaintiffs, their justifications for
emergency relief have sunk today instead of swum, or rather,
have prematurely zipped past the legal goal posts, wide
right. In Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S.
555 (1992), the Supreme Court explained that
“irreducible constitutional minimum of standing”
requires “injury in fact”: a concrete and
particularized injury that is actual or imminent, but not
conjectural or hypothetical. To that end, the Court is
unconvinced at this juncture that all members of both teams
will suffer the type of injury in fact contemplated by
Lujan and that there is, as Plaintiffs suggest, no
material difference between elimination of an athletics team
altogether and, for instance, a reduction in the quantity or
quality of an existing team's scheduled games.
assuming arguendo the satisfaction of this
fundamental doctrine, I nevertheless find that Plaintiffs
have failed to meet the burden necessary for this
“extraordinary remedy.” I base this decision on
Plaintiffs' failure to demonstrate irreparable harm.
Specifically, I note that, per the Lock Haven University
Athletics' Department Proposed Realignment Plan of March
6, 2017,  the demotion of the women's field
hockey program from NCAA Division I to Division II
competition level has been postponed for a year to allow an
expanded review of the proposal, and the women's swim
program will be continued for another academic year. While
Plaintiffs nevertheless argue that uncertainty is harming
both the recruiting of athletes and the scheduling of
meets/games, any harm suffered prior to a final decision
concerning elimination or demotion is speculative and
reparable. Therefore, because “speculative
injury does not constitute a showing of irreparable harm,
” Plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently
establish irreparable injury entitling them to injunctive
relief. The Court need not examine the remaining factors as
the test for injunctive relief is conjunctive.
NOW, in accordance with the above reasoning, IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary
Restraining Order is DENIED.
parties are to inform the Court by the close of business on
Monday, June 12, 2017 of agreeable dates for a preliminary
 See American Tel. and Tel. Co. v.
Winback and Conserve Program, Inc., 42 F.3d 1421,
1426-27 (3d Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 514 U.S. 1103
 Crissman v. Dover Downs
Entertainment Inc., 239 F.3d 357, 364 (3d Cir.
Bieros v. Nicola, 857 F.Supp.
445, 446 ...