Federal Judges, Golf, Sports

Opinion of the Day: Giuliani v. Duke University

golf ball.jpgMay 2009 must be a month of mixed emotions for Andrew Giuliani, son of former New York mayor (and unsuccessful presidential candidate) Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani the younger sued Duke University for kicking him off the golf team.

On the positive side, he graduated from Duke this month (even if he did miss the graduation ceremony). On the negative side, he lost he’s one step closer to losing his breach of contract case against Duke — and now, thanks to the humorous opinion by a little-known North Carolina judge, he’s being subjected to a quadruple bogey of humiliation.

CORRECTION: Giuliani hasn’t lost his lawsuit yet. The magistrate judge has merely recommended dismissal to the district judge.

Magistrate Judge Wallace Dixon dismissed recommended dismissal of Giuliani’s suit, with golf references playing through the whole 12-page opinion.

Here’s a sampling of leads from various news sources:

ESPN: Suffice it to say that in U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Dixon’s opinion, ousted Duke University golfer Andrew Giuliani’s lawsuit against the school did not make par.
New York Daily News: Andrew Giuliani’s bid to sue Duke University for kicking him off its golf team ended in the rough this week.
New York Times: A federal magistrate judge with a taste for sports metaphors has found that Andrew Giuliani’s lawsuit against Duke University for letting a coach push him off the university’s golf team is “a swing and a miss.”
San Jose Mercury News: A judge treated Andrew Giuliani’s lawsuit with all the gravitas it deserved — which is to say, there’s a legal document in North Carolina that was inspired by “Caddyshack.”
The News and Observer: The son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to make a federal case against Duke University for kicking him off the golf team. But a federal magistrate says Andrew Giuliani’s case belongs in the drink.

The News & Observer wins the contest for wonkiest golf metaphor. Excerpts from the opinion, after the jump.

Here are some of the best excerpts from the opinion, posted by the Smoking Gun. Lovers of golf, Caddyshack, and sports metaphors… Fore!

Plaintiff tees up his case by alleging that his dismissal from the Duke golf team was a “secret expulsion … without notice, without an opportunity to defend himself, and without cause in violation of University-issued policies enacted to protect students from such arbitrary acts.”

This attempt to change arguments between the complaint and the brief is like trying to change clubs after hitting the golf ball — Plaintiff is stuck with the club (in this case the argument) that he first picked… Therefore, Plaintiff’s reliance on four student policy manuals as evidence of a contract is a swing and a miss.

Plaintiff attempts to take a mulligan with this argument; however, this shot also lands in the drink.

Plaintiff’s promissory estoppel claim, which was not argued in his brief, brings to mind Carl Spackler’s analysis from the movie CADDYSHACK (Orion Pictures 1980): “He’s on his final hole. He’s about 455 yards away, he’s gonna hit about a 2 iron, I think.” North Carolina does not recognize affirmative claims of promissory estoppel; thus, Defendants are entitled to a judgment on the pleadings.

Plaintiff’s fifth and final claim for declaratory judgment, which was also not argued in his brief, can be disposed of with a hole-in-one sentence: no valid contract means no declaratory judgment.

Well done, Judge Dixon. That opinion was a stroke of genius.

Ed. note: Kash must admit to a certain lack of impartiality in the drafting of this post. She is Duke ’03. And the only golf she plays is on the Wii or on a mini-golf course.

Giuliani Duke Golf Lawsuit Shanks [Smoking Gun]
Law Blog Magistrate Judge of the Day: Wallace Dixon [WSJ Law Blog]
Earlier: Andrew Giuliani’s Golf Team Lawsuit: Open Thread
Duke Uses Big Apple to Fight Giuliani Lawsuit

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