Ind. School Dist. No. I-89, Okla. Co v Okla. Sec. School Activities Ass’n (2014) H&FLR 2015-7

Independent School District No. I-89 of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma v Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (2014) H&FLR 2015-7

District Court of Oklahoma County (Oklahoma)

11 December 2014

Coram: Jones J

Appearing for the Plaintiff: F. Andrew Fugitt and Anthony T. Childers
Appearing for the Defendant: Mark S. Grossman, Andre B. Caldwell and Meredith W. Wolfe (of Crowe & Dunlevy)

Catchwords: Oklahoma – high school – American football – umpiring – review of decisions – sporting associations – injunction.

Facts: A high school football team operated by the plaintiff took part in a playoff game overseen by the defendant on 28 November 2014. The plaintiff considered that its team had been disadvantaged by a particular umpiring decision and sought a replay of the game, which the defendant refused.  The plaintiff sought an injunction compelling the replaying of the last 64 seconds of the game or (alternatively) the replaying of the entire match.

Held: refusing to grant the injunction, that –

1. To obtain a temporary injunction a plaintiff must show (a) a substantial likelihood of success in the substantive issue; (b) irreparable harm to the plaintiff if the injunction is refused; (c) that the potential injury is not speculative and outweighs the harm of the temporary injunction to the respondent; and (d) that the injunction would not be contrary to the public interest.

Tulsa Order of Police Lodge No. 93 v City of Tulsa, 39 P.3d 152 (2001) and House of Realty v City of Midwest City, 109 P.3d 314 (2004), followed.

2. The necessary harm could not be shown simply by the defendant’s alleged breach of its own policies, particularly where the policies themselves and their application was a matter of the defendant’s discretion.

3. In general, courts should not intervene in matters where the parties have agreed to be bound by and submitted to the governance of activities associations.

4. The court would in any case decline to order the requested relief because there is no means of ensuring that it may be carried out fairly: it would be impossible to replicate entirely the conditions of the disputed match with regard to player fatigue, weather, field conditions, coaching and referee decisions, among other things, and an attempt to do so would invite uncertainty and error. Ultimately this would frustrate athletic pursuits themselves.

Judgment

The Court’s judgement is available here.