4-H Cheating Scandal Reaches 8th Circuit
The Eighth Circuit is “weighing in” on a lawsuit brought by the family of a South Dakota teenager accused of cheating in a 4-H pig-showing competition in South Dakota, reports The Associated Press. The family of White Lake teenager Bayley Kroupa says she was humiliated and denied due process when she was banned from 4-H competition in 2011 for an alleged ethics violation. They are suing and seeking $850,000 in damages.
Kroupa, then 16, was banned from 4-H competition in October 2011 for allegedly showing a pig at the 2011 South Dakota State Fair that she did not raise herself during the project season. Her father, Greg Kroupa, allegedly bought a Missouri State Fair pig from an animal dealer in Iowa following the hog’s success in a Missouri State Fair competition — a violation of the 4-H code of ethics.
4-H officials have appealed a federal judge’s ruling that Kroupa can participate in 4-H competitions while the lawsuit proceeds.
The parties argued before the Eighth Circuit about the injunction and whether Bayley should be allowed to compete in 4-H livestock exhibitions through the duration of the lawsuit.
To support preliminary injunctive relief, a party must meet the four factors set forth in Dataphase Systems, Inc. v. CL Sysmtems Inc.. The lower court granted the injunction after weighing:
- The threat of irreparable harm to the movant. The court found that Kroupa could face irreparable harm if she can't participate in 4-H competitions as the trial continues. Though courts have held there's no irreparable harm when a plaintiff is banned from government-sponsored sports, the court said 4-H competitions are different. They give cash prizes and also provide a means for showcasing livestock. The 4-H ban could affect Kroupa's college fund and livelihood as a future breeder of livestock. Kroupa also allegedly received derogatory statements from her peers through email and Facebook. 4-H officials argued they're not to blame for Bayley's peers learning of the cheating allegations. But the court sided with the 16-year-old.The takeaway point here is that the possibility of harm matters, not actual harm.
- The balance of harms. The Kroupa family attorney says Bayley has been denied the opportunity to win future cash prizes. 4-H attorneys say Bayley can still participate in 4-H, just not in competitions. The court sided with Kroupa because of her age -- she has two more years to compete in 4-H. The court determined the injunction was necessary because by the time this case is over, Kroupa will be too old to compete in the 4-H competition.
- The likelihood of success on the merits. The lower court found that Kroupa has shown she has a fair chance of succeeding on her procedural due process claim. Kroupa is arguing that she was deprived of a fair notice and hearing before being banned from 4-H competition.
- The public interest. The court held that South Dakota has a strong public interest to afford notice and a hearing when appropriate.
A ruling on the injunction by the Eighth Circuit will occur at a future date.