Barrios v. California Interscholastic Federation

227 F.3d 1128 (9th Cir. 2002)


P is an assistant baseball coach for Westminster High School. P has been paraplegic since 1992. P coached high school baseball from an athletic wheelchair or four consecutive seasons in the CIFSS (D) league. P's' athletic wheelchair was specially adapted for the rigors of sports, where it is commonplace for collisions to occur both with other wheelchairs and with able-bodied referees. To date, no injuries have been reported as a result of wheelchair design. At the first game of the 1999 season an umpire told P before the game that, for his own safety, he would not be permitted to coach on the field. When Barrios protested, the umpire issued an ultimatum: either P forego coaching on the field or the umpire would leave. P and the other team's coach agreed to play the game without the umpire so that P could fulfill his duties as an assistant coach. OCBOA umpires would not allow P onto the field to coach runners or pitchers because his presence on the field would 'slow the game down.' D's Assistant Commissioner informed the principal of Westminster High School that P could not coach from unless 'all exterior hard surfaces of his wheelchair shall be covered with `no less than one-half inch thick, high density, closed cell polyurethane, or an alternate material of the same minimum thickness and similar properties.' Eventually, P was excluded from on-field coaching. Attorneys got involved, and despite a negotiated settlement, P was still excluded. P filed for a TRO. Ds orally agreed to allow P to coach and the court saw no need for the TRO. Over the next few months, a dialogue between the parties continued, finally culminating in a settlement agreement. P was to receive $10,000 in compensatory damages. Attorney fees were expressly reserved for the Court to decide upon motion by any PARTY. One-month later D moved to vacate on the ground that the parties never discussed during the settlement negotiations whether a judgment or stipulation for dismissal would be filed. D argued that the district court should vacate the judgment because otherwise P would be given the opportunity to execute a judgment not contemplated by any of the parties during the settlement negotiations. D still had not paid P the $10,000 in compensatory damages, so P argued a judgment was necessary. D's motion was granted. The district court entered an order denying P's motion for attorneys' fees. The parties stipulated to a dismissal with prejudice.