Sibling Wrestlers Can Sue School Together
(CN) - A school district cannot sever claims that its "misogynist" wrestling coach beat up a freshman after a student heavier by 75 pounds threw the boy into double doors, a federal judge ruled.
Lori Moeck and her minor son and daughter, identified respectively as C.M. and A.M. in the court record, sued the Broadheadsville, Pa.-based Pleasant Valley School District and various officials this past May.
Since Pleasant Valley has no separate girls' wrestling team, A.M. was allowed to join the boys' team, the complaint states.
The Palmerton, Pa., family claims that the students' wrestling coach, Mark Getz, taught through "misogynist and homophobic" intimidation and humiliation, which the district ignored.
"That culture was fed by assistant wrestling coaches Keith Smith and Matt 'Little' Getz, who would often engage in gender discrimination by asking A.M. if she had gotten her period 'cause we see your pad,'" the 22-page complaint states.
Smith and Matt Getz are not parties to the complaint, but the family claimed that the assistant coaches told the team in "graphic detail" about their first sexual encounters. Matt Getz once discussed a "threesome" with A.M, and Mark Getz yelled at the girl to "get her balls to the mat," according to the lawsuit.
Students whom the head coach cut from the team without explanation included one whose mother objected to the coaches "taking the boys to Hooters," the complaint states.
C.M. says he was just a 14-year-old freshman weighing 145 pounds on Dec. 3, 2012, when he was forced to wrestle a 220-pound student and wound up thrown through a pair of double doors.
When C.M. said he was "done," Mark allegedly called him a "fucking pussy, a quitter" and "a fucking faggot," and "ran him across the entire wrestling room into the back wall of the gymnasium, causing him to smash his head and back into the wall."
Though C.M. began vomiting and having an asthma attack, he was not taken to the hospital until his mother arrived nearly half an hour later, according to the complaint.
Months later, Mark allegedly forced A.M. to wrestle "'full on' nonstop, with no water, and no 30-second cool downs, until she vomited," then "simply stood by and laughed."
Before Mark Getz's suspension in March, he kept students "in line and ... silent" by threatening to prevent them from getting college scholarships, the family claimed.
The Moecks assert Fifth and 14th Amendment claims for assault and battery and state-created danger, state-law claims for assault and battery and emotional distress, and sexual harassment and discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
The district, Superintendent Douglas Arnold, Assistant Superintendent Anthony Fadule and Principal John Gress moved to sever C.M.'s claims from his sister's "unrelated" claims. Mark Getz did not join the motion.
U.S. District Judge James Munley denied it Monday.
"At the present time, we find enough overlap in factual allegations of the plaintiff's causes of action to justify the claims being in one case," Munley wrote. "The plaintiffs are siblings, they are both wrestlers on the same high school wrestling team and they both allege that they were treated inappropriately. Additionally, joining the claims for discovery purposes should serve the convenience of the parties. Discovery may reveal commonalities between the two plaintiffs' claims or it may reveal that A.M.'s claims are indeed different and separate from C.M.'s claims. Accordingly, we find it inappropriate to sever the case at this point."