Court of Petty Appeals: Best-of Edition

The Court of Petty Appeals is the highest appellate jurisdiction court at UVa Law. The Court has the power to review any and all decisions, conflicts, and disputes that arise involving, either directly, indirectly, or tangentially, the Law School or its students. The Court comprises four associate justices and one Chief Justice. Opinions shall be released periodically and only in the official court reporter: the Virginia Law Weekly. Please email a brief summary of any and all conflicts to jmg3db@virginia.edu.

In accordance with this Court’s decision in Anonymous (Whiny) 3L v. Court of Petty Appeals and Justices Thereof, in their Official Capacity, but Especially Chief Justice Goldman and Justice VanderMeulen, 18 U.Va 642 (2017), the Court orders reproduction of its opinion in UVa Law v. UVa Undergraduates, 917 U.Va 322 (2016) as part of its “Best of the Court of Petty Appeals”  series. The Court trusts the law school community will find this opinion relevant and timely.

UVa Law v. UVa Undergraduates

The Court of Petty Appeals

917 U.Va 322

29 January 2018

Original Version: Spring 2016

HADEN, C.J. This case is on appeal from the lower court of Main Grounds. There, Judge Teresa Sullivan (hereinafter “T-Sully”) dismissed the plaintiffs’ suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The plaintiffs, here appellants, timely appealed. For the reasons that follow, we will reverse the clearly erroneous decision of T-Sully and remand this case back to her court for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Plaintiffs here are a group of concerned members of the noble University of Virginia School of Law. Plaintiffs are concerned with a series of encroachments by members of the undergraduate population. The most egregious of these encroachments are the subject of this suit. What follows is a summary of these alleged encroachments.

 Photo courtesy of UVa Law Humane Society for Stray Undergraduates.

Photo courtesy of UVa Law Humane Society for Stray Undergraduates.

First, plaintiffs argue that defendants have been using the Library at the Law School during law school exams instead of whatever library undergrads are supposed to use. Plaintiffs point out the clear signs in the library, indicating that the library is only to be used by law students. Plaintiffs also provide photographic evidence of a gaggle of undergrad girls laughing loudly in MyLab while enjoying the free coffee. Indeed, numerous reports of “those f*cking undergrads mak[ing] so much g*ddamn noise” have been documented in plaintiffs’ brief.

Next, plaintiffs argue that the defendants have been making the Chipotle line really really long. Plaintiffs concede that the line is normally fairly long. However, expert opinion1 shows that the lines are beyond the normally long lines at Chipotle. Plaintiffs point to large groups of undergrads clogging the lines by talking too much, and also ordering for their friends, further increasing the delay. Chipotle store co-owner and UVa professor Deborah Hellman said, “This is some next level encroachment fo’ sho.”

The plaintiffs also contend that undergrads have been using the North Grounds Gym. They point to several photographs of students in UVa fraternity and sorority shirts, and other students in Vineyard Vines shirts “gettin’ their gym on” at North Grounds rather than in their own gyms on Main Grounds. North Grounds regular Professor Daniel Ortiz has submitted an affidavit saying, “Seriously, it’s crowded with teenagers in there. It’s more like Spring Break at Cancún than a graduate student gymnasium.”

Plaintiffs’ final contention is that undergrads in general have been clogging the streets of the city, both as drivers and as pedestrians, slowing the general movement of people in Charlottesville. Plaintiffs point to six different crosswalks on Emmet Street in a quarter-mile block. UVa Dean Paul Mahoney has noted that “those little sh*ts will just jump right out in front of you. I almost hit two on my way to work this morning.” Plaintiffs also allege that undergrads don’t drive well; their driving prowess has been described as a horrifying mix of demon-speeding in a 25 zone and crawling below 10 mph on the highway.

We now turn to a discussion of these contentions, noting of course that there is a strong legal presumption of distaste towards undergraduates. Our holding in UVa Undergraduates v. Common Decency indicates that undergraduates in large numbers tend to flood buildings and generally forget their manners when they are out on the town. 890 U.Va 432 (2015). Therefore, we shall examine plaintiffs’ claims in a broad and gracious light, resolving all ambiguities in their favor.

For this court to grant equitable relief, the plaintiffs must set out a clear claim for such relief on the basis of an encroachment by the defendants as a class. Defendants must then present evidence against such a claim, or an affirmative defense against the claim. Failure to do so shall result in requested equitable relief for the plaintiffs. Our review of the case is de novo, because we are badasses.

Plaintiffs’ first contention clearly establishes an encroachment on the UVa Law Library. Defendants have no right to be there, taking up table space and drinking coffee from MyLab. Both signs and common sense dictate that defendants should not be in that space for any reason. Therefore, as a matter of law, any undergraduate in the Law Library is encroaching on the space. No affirmative defenses are available to the defendants on this claim.

Plaintiffs’ second contention is a more difficult claim to prove. We note that a free economic market suggests that anyone may be a patron of any restaurant, regardless of age or college enrollment status. However, the evidence here is overwhelming that the defendants have been really slowing down the Chipotle line. Chipotle expert Dana Wallace ‘16 notes that, “These children—and that’s what they are, children—are far exceeding the allowable bounds of Chipotle. We have progressed from patronage to an overwhelming culinary assault on a beloved North Grounds establishment.” Defendants suggest that Chipotle is so delicious that they are unable to stay away. While we agree with this line of reasoning, we have here an impasse; the balancing of interests between the two groups is nearly equal. As stated above, we shall resolve this ambiguity against the defendants, and enter injunctive relief on plaintiffs’ second claim.

The plaintiffs’ third claim should also prevail. There are three different large gyms at the University of Virginia. Two of the three gyms are on Main Grounds, the domain of the undergraduate population. The third, North Grounds, is on “home turf” to plaintiffs and their similarly situated class, the Darden students. This gym was created and renovated with these graduate students in mind. The plaintiffs and similarly situated graduate students should not have to suffer a lack of treadmill machines and a crowded weight area because of the influx of defendants. Defendants here have no affirmative defense. There are two other gyms that they may take advantage of; they need not prey upon the graduate space when they have been given spaces of their own, much closer to their residences. Injunctive relief shall be granted on this claim.

Finally, we turn to the plaintiffs’ fourth contention. While we agree with the spirit of the claim, we are unable to grant injunctive relief on such grounds because it is too vague for equitable relief. A general claim of “clogging,” while perhaps accurate, is not specific enough for this court to enjoin such behavior. We grant the plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint to allege as many specific clogging violations as they wish. T-Sully in the lower court shall continue proceedings on any such claims that are deemed to be sufficiently specific.

Consistent with the above opinion, we reverse the lower court’s decision on the plaintiffs’ first three claims, and affirm the lower court’s dismissal of the fourth claim but grant leave for the plaintiffs to amend that claim.

It is so ordered.

 

ANGELOTTI, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part.

The well written majority opinion is clear and correct in its statement of the complaint and facts, as well as its standard of review and presumption against the undergraduates. Further, I concur in the reversal of dismissal of the first three of the plaintiffs’ complaints. I write separately because I would also reverse the dismissal of the fourth claim.

There are things in life that are so inherently irritating that it is difficult to imagine attempting to pin that irritation down to specific words. See, e.g., pickles, democracy, and Con Law. I fear that this exact problem is what plagues the fourth contention of the plaintiffs, and since I am able to understand their general complaint, I would reverse the dismissal of this claim.

It would be relatively easy to enjoin the defendants from being annoying or obnoxious; we would rely on our enforcement officials to exercise sound judgment in preventing undergraduate behavior. I worry about the suffering that the plaintiffs will continue to suffer generally at the hands of this increasingly brazen population. While I hope that the plaintiffs will be able to amend their complaint to be sufficiently specific to satisfy the majority’s standards, I am content to dissent on this matter.

1 Including personal corroboration by the Chief Justice of this Court