- 2007 FRATERNAL LAW CONFERENCE
- CHARGES FILED IN TEXAS HAZING CASE
- JUDGE DENIES PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION MOTION
- INSURANCE COVERAGE DENIED IN GEORGIA CASE
- MEMBERS SENTENCED TO 2 YEARS FOR HAZING IN FLORIDA
- RESTRICTED FUNDS - SOMETIMES A DILEMMA FOR FRATERNITY FOUNDATIONS
- ΣΝ RECEIVES SUBPOENA
- DEAN ACQUITTED FOR FAILURE TO REPORT A FELONY
- FIRE STUDY BLASTS USE OF SPEECH CODES
- Fraternal Law Celebrates Our 100th Issue
- UNIVERSITY HIT WITH DAMAGES FOR USE OF ILLEGAL RECORDING
Newsletter > March 2007 > "JUDGE DENIES PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION MOTION"
JUDGE DENIES PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION MOTION
Dan McCarthy, Manley Burke
As previously reported in the November, 2006 issue of Fraternal Law, the Omicron Chapter of Sigma Chi, located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and comprised of students attending Dickinson College, recently filed suit against the College.1 The primary cause of action is for breach of contract because Dickinson, in its official publications, promises its students many of the same constitutional First Amendment rights that other citizens enjoy. The College also specifically informed its students that there would be no disciplinary consequences for joining an unrecognized fraternity. The College later abruptly changed its policy toward unrecognized fraternities by threatening to expel all students who either attempt to recruit students to an unrecognized fraternity or those who actually join such a fraternity.
The Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction seeking a court order to be able to continue to exist pending a full trial on the merits. The Plaintiffs alleged that the College acted in bad faith and unfairly singled out the Chapter when it attempted to change its policy on unrecognized fraternities. The Plaintiffs also alleged that the Chapter was a protected intimate and expressive association, and that Dickinson students had a contractual right to join the Chapter.
The Judge recently denied the preliminary injunction. In the decision, the judge held that the Plaintiffs did not demonstrate a clear right to relief as required for a preliminary injunction. The judge found that the College did not improperly modify the contract with its students, and specifically stated that “Pennsylvania courts have consistently afforded great deference to a private college’s disciplinary policies and decisions.” The Court concluded by stating that “[i]n light of the deference afforded to a private college’s disciplinary policies and decisions, this Court refuses to read Dickinson’s Student Handbook as contracting to provided unconditional First Amendment rights of association to student groups, especially in light of the express language to the contrary.”
The Plaintiffs are now assessing their legal options and deciding the best course forward.
The Plaintiffs, including the Chapter, are represented by Tim Burke and Dan McCarthy from Manley Burke. Kevin Canavan, of the Swartz Campbell law firm in Philadelphia, serves as local co-counsel.
1 Joshua R. Erhardt, et al. v. Dickinson College, Court of Common Pleas of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Cumberland County, Case No. 06-2647.