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Family's Case on Alleged Retaliation Over High School Softball Strikes Out

A federal appeals court says an Illinois family offered "absolutely no evidence to support their theory" that they faced retaliation for the parents raising concerns about their daughter's treatment by the high school softball coach.

In fact, the panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, ordered the parents to explain why they shouldn't be held responsible for the attorneys' fees of the defendants, which included the softball coach and principal of Morton Community High School, and the superintendent and school board members of Morton Community Unit School District 709 in suburban Chicago.

The parents alleged, among other things, that the coach had been favoring the team's other pitcher over their daughter and doctoring statistics to that effect. After meeting with school officials to voice their complaints, the parents allege that some school employees stopped talking to them, the father was asked not to videotape the girl's softball games, and the school and softball boosters may have conspired against them so they missed the year-end softball banquet.

"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 said in its unanimous Feb. 29 decision in Springer v. Durflinger.

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