Marden Moot Court finalists argue in sex discrimination and retaliation case

On March 26, Jeremy Brinster ’20, Katherine Stein ’19, David Moosmann ’19, and Madeleine Xu ’20 appeared before a panel of three federal appellate judges in the final argument of the 47th annual Orison S. Marden Moot Court Board Competition.

After hearing arguments in the fictitious employment case that comprised the moot problem, Chief Judge Diane Wood of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Judge Jane Stranch of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and Judge Srikanth Srinivasan of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit gave the Best Oralist award to Xu, who was also the recipient of the Marden Brief Writing Award.

In making the award, the judges had praise for all four finalists. “You didn’t duck the questions, you actually took them head-on,” Judge Srinivasan told them, adding, “You acquitted yourself well in something that I think all of us look for in advocates.”

“You listened carefully…and then you drew analogies to explain why you were right,” said Judge Stranch. She praised the participants for citing examples from other areas of law instead of relying on a narrow range of cases. “That will serve you so well,” she said.

The moot problem, Richard Chase v. Plainsboro University, centered on a suit filed by a male nursing student with an interest in midwifery, who claimed that female nurses on the university hospital’s maternity ward had discriminated against him and ultimately blocked him from a placement required by his nursing program. Plainsboro argued that Chase’s sex discrimination claim against the university should have been filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, not Title IX. The university also contended that the Chase’s retaliation claim under Title IX should be evaluated under the higher standard of “but-for” causation, not motivating factor causation. After a federal district court granted the university’s motion for summary judgment on these points, Chase appealed.

The moot final featured oral argument on that appeal. Representing Chase, Brinster argued on the Title VII issue, and Stein handled the causation standard argument. Moosman advocated for the university on Title VII, and Xu on causation.

John Preston ’20 and Kristen Proe ’20 prepared the moot problem, with the help of faculty advisors Cynthia Estlund, Catherine A. Rein Professor of Law, and Deborah Malamud, AnBryce Professor of Law.

Posted April 4, 2019