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7th Circuit Comes Down Hard On Softball Parents

CHICAGO (CN) - The 7th Circuit dismissed a retaliation claim propelled by "disgruntled parents who dislike their daughters' high-school softball coach." The parents sued the coach based on their belief that she had been favoring her younger sister, the team's pitcher.

"(W)e are not at all sympathetic to the parents' appeal," Judge Kanne wrote. "They have never been able to point to one shred of evidence demonstrating retaliation."

Rollie and Cynthia Springer, and Ross and Carla Collins, claimed coach Stacy Whitcomb of Morton Community High School "suppressed" the abilities of their daughters in order to showcase her younger sister, Sammi. They accused Whitcomb of doctoring statistics to favor her sister, and of being abusive to umpires, parents, team boosters and players.

The Collinses also blamed Whitcomb for the fact that their daughter, the team's other pitcher, was not selected for Mid-Illini Conference honors.

When they complained, the school allegedly retaliated by ignoring their requests for a meeting with the school board, instructing teachers not to talk to them and not asking them to volunteer as parent boosters, among other things.

The alleged circumstantial evidence was "totally unremarkable because of its normalness," Kanne wrote.

"We cannot infer that these separate incidents - which easily could have happened to numerous softball families in high schools across America last season - amount to circumstantial evidence of retaliation."

The court also ordered the parents to explain why they should not have to pay the defendants' legal costs and attorney fees.

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