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New York Judge Rules Against Fall HS Football

Andy Berg

A New York supreme court justice has ruled against an injunction as part of a class-action lawsuit that was aimed at resuming high school football in the New York this fall.

The parent of a Niagara Falls High School football player had sued to move New York State and overturn a previous decision that moved high school football to the spring.

The lawsuit was filed in September by James G. Mergmigis on behalf of Loraine Humphrey, and named 15 people – including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York State Public High School Athletic Association Executive Director Robert Zayas and Section VI Executive Director Timm Slade – as defendants, along with the New York State Department of Health.

Humphrey’s son, Justin Humphrey-Goldsmith, is a senior who plays football at Niagara Falls High School.

“I cannot grant the injunctive relief,” Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. said, according to The Buffalo News. “There is a viable option available to eliminate any additional complaints made that might be supported in the complainant’s complaint, and that is spring football. So, I deny the injunctive relief.”

Mergmigis said he does not plan to appeal the decision.

“The judge seemed to think spring is a fallback, so what we’ll do is that if there is no spring football, we will refile this,” Mermigis said. “The injunction was denied, and I’m going to withdraw the claim.”

Kloch reasoned that football players are not a protected class and that any claims of potentially losing scholarship opportunities were purely speculative.

“Since the request here would more properly modify the status quo than hold the status quo, it is my belief, and I believe the law provides there must be a heightened higher standard applied,” Kloch said as he read his ruling. “The parties seeking the injunctive relief must show a clear and substantial likelihood of success on the merits and must make a strong showing of irreparable harm.

Mermigis said that he actually agreed with the judge’s opinion but that the real motive behind the suit was to ensure spring football.

“What I was trying to get him to do was guarantee a spring season,” Mermigis said. “I guess he was right, that we don’t know if the season will be played in the spring, if (Covid-19) cases will rise, but we intend to challenge this again in the spring, that football gets played in New York.”

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