Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Big settlements make me smile

There are so many cliched sentiments to describe the $7.4 million judgment levied against the Michigan High School Athletic Association for attorney fees incurred during the 12-year fight to keep discrimination alive and well in Michigan high schools.
The ones that came to my mind immediately: reaping what you sow; karma's a bitch. [Further cliches are welcome in the comments section.]
More on the details of the case can be found at the Title IX blog, but the Reader's Digest version goes like this: Michigan scheduled more girls' sports in non-traditional seasons (like basketball in fall for example) than boys' which had a disproportionately discriminatory effect on the girls. There were actually a host of other gender discrimination issues brought up in the 12-year case but the scheduling issue got the most attention and created the most vitriol.
MHSSA lost. They lost more than once and continued to appeal the decisions ordering them to put sports in their traditional seasons. In 2007 when the Supreme Court refused to hear their last appeal.
MHSSA had the opportunity to settle the case. In this settlement they would not have been responsible for any legal fees incurred by the plaintiffs. But they said they had the money to keep fighting and they themselves spent over $10 million on this case. And now they are on the hook for the $7.4 million worth of fees (and the $1,000/day interest) most of which will go to attorney Kristen Galles from Virginia who was the lead attorney on this case and runs a one-woman public interest law firm.
If I was Kristen Galles I would be doing the schadenfreude dance right now. I've only met her once and my impression is that she's a bit more mature than that. But I am certain she has a pretty big grin on her face.

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