The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Thomas M. Rose
ENTRY AND ORDER CERTIFYING A CLASS CONSISTING OF ALL PRESENT AND FUTURE MEMBERS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI WOMEN'S ROWING TEAM, GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO CERTIFY CLASS. (DOC. 7).
Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify Class. Doc. 7. Therein, Plaintiffs request that the Court certify a class consisting of "All present, prospective and future participants in the women's athletics program at the University of Cincinnati." Doc. 7 at 1.*fn1 Plaintiffs are female athletes on the University of Cincinnati women's rowing team. Plaintiffs allege that the University of Cincinnati denies women the equal opportunity to compete for and to receive athletic scholarships and denies women equal access to athletic benefits and opportunities in the provision of training facilities, equipment and supplies, scheduling of practice times, travel and per diem allowances, coaching, locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities, medical facilities and services, dining facilities and services, publicity, support services, and recruitment of student athletes, all in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681-87 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Doc. 6-1, proposed first amended complaint.
The First Amended Complaint alleges that athletes on the University's women's rowing team faced discriminatory treatment, including discrimination in the areas of equipment and facilities. The women's rowing team allegedly has never had enough boats to properly train. Neither, it is alleged, has the team ever had adequate facilities to store, maintain and repair the boats they were provided. The team apparently has never had enough rowing machines to work out as a team. It has never even had a meeting room large enough to allow the members to meet together as a team.
The complaint further asserts that the team is given the least desirable workout times for weight training. The team lacks adequate sports-specific equipment. It does not have adequate transportation to their outdoor training area. According to the complaint, the team has too few coaches or assistant coaches and little if any access to trainers. No one helps them with their equipment. Team members don't have enough event or practice apparel. When the team travels, it stays at budget hotels, sleeping four to a room and two to a bed. The complaint recites numerous other examples of unequal treatment.
The complaint asserts that the women's rowing team exemplifies how female athletes as a whole are treated unfairly when the benefits and services provided to male athletes are compared to the benefits and services provided to female athletes. It claims no men's team is treated so poorly with regard to benefits and services.
Finally, the complaint asserts that the university itself reports that scholarship awards are not substantially proportionate to men's and women's respective rates of athletics participation. The 227 female athletes at the university (comprising 45.3% of all athletes) receive only 41.1% of the scholarship dollars while males (comprising 54.7% of all athletes) receive 58.9% of the scholarship dollars.
At this stage of the litigation, Plaintiffs seek certification of a class, which Defendant opposes. Motions to certify a class are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.
The party seeking to certify a class action has the burden of demonstrating that all of the prerequisites of Rule 23(a) are met, and that the case falls within one of the subcategories listed in Rule 23(b). Senter v. General Motors Corp., 532 F.2d 511, 522 (6th Cir. 1976).
Rule 23(a) provides that:
One or more members of a class may sue or be sued as representative parties on behalf of all only if (1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable, (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class, (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses of the class, and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
The Plaintiffs argue that this suit fits within the second category of Rule 23(b), according to which:
An action may be maintained as a class action if the prerequisites of subdivision (a) are satisfied and, in addition ... (2) the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class, thereby making appropriate final injunctive relief or ...