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Court kicks out frivolous Title IX cheerleader suit with gusto

Prep Rally

What happens when two cheerleaders get into a lengthy feud over a boy, then the younger is left off the varsity squad the following season? In Texas, a lawsuit happens, with said suit being laughed out of an appeals court upon its official review date.

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Creekview High School Mustangs

Creekview High School Mustangs

As first reported by the Dallas Observer, the Title IX lawsuit filed by Liz Laningham -- the mother of former Carrollton (Texas) Creekview High cheerleader Sami Sanches (who is not pictured among the most recent group of Creekview cheerleaders below) -- was thrown out of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals with the legal equivalent of a good, forceful kick to the rear end.

The following passage comes directly from the legal opinion given in the Laningham-Sanches case. In fact, it's the statement that starts off the lengthy court opinion, which you can read in full at the bottom of this Deadspin post right here.

Reduced to its essentials, this is nothing more than a dispute, fueled by a disgruntled cheerleader mom, over whether her daughter should have made the squad. It is a petty squabble, masquerading as a civil rights matter, that has no place in federal court or any other court. We find no error [with the lower court's judgement] and affirm.

Now, one might wonder how the mother of a high school cheerleader could possibly be delusional enough to think that a claim of a vast school conspiracy against her daughter would be validated by a federal court. In fact, one might also wonder what made her feel entitled enough to cite prior legal decisions that found proof of sexual harassment and discrimination against rape victims and students who happened to bear an unfortunate likeness with Monica Lewinsky, in that aforementioned court claim.

The answer, it seems, is that Ms. Laningham was quite delusional indeed. Among a serial list of issues raised in her original legal writ, the Dallas Observer pulled out the following salient complaints … none of which, one could argue, have absolutely anything to do with the kind of systematic discrimination Title IX and sexual harassment laws are intended to protect against:

1. The school did not remove the freshman cheerleading squad captain after she told Sanches she'd kissed her boyfriend.

2 The way the squad chose jump sequences at homecoming was patently unfair.

3. Rank favoritism.

4. The scheduling of the end-of-year banquet for cheerleaders was too favorable to senior girls.

5. Laningham was threatened with a lawsuit by other parents because she failed to return cheerleading videos.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a test case in when you know a lawsuit is extraordinarily frivolous. The fact that other parents had to file a suit against Laningham just to get her to return cheerleading squad videos is proof enough that she didn't have the greatest track record of responsible "cheerleading stewardship," for lack of a better term.

Still, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals wasn't yet finished in its criticism of Laningham's irresponsible legal advocacy. In fact, it went so far as to criticize the grammar of the original filed brief in its footnotes, which it did with the following piece of exceptional intra-documentary referencing:

"Usually we do not comment on technical and grammatical errors, because anyone can make such an occasional mistake, but here the miscues are so egregious and obvious that an average fourth grader would have avoided most of them. …

"And finally, the sentence containing the word 'incompetence' makes no sense as a matter of standard English prose, so it is not reasonably possible to understand the thought, if any, that is being conveyed. It is ironic that the term 'incompetence' is used here, because the only thing that is incompetent is the passage itself."

Ouch. Laningham just got served  ... a really nasty court decision.

Thus concluded what Prep Rally can only consider to be the greatest review of a frivolous high school athletics lawsuit of all time. It's a legal opinion that may be incredibly difficult to top in the future, too, given its brash handling of the case and willingness to try and set a precedent for how such future frivolous lawsuits will be handled.

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