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Judge tosses part of 4-H cheating suit

WHITE LAKE — A judge has thrown out some claims for monetary damages made by a White Lake family suing two state 4-H officials.

Greg Kroupa, of White Lake, filed a lawsuit on behalf of his daughter, 18-year-old Bayley Kroupa, in March 2012 after she was banned from 4-H competition. She had allegedly shown a different swine at the 2011 South Dakota State Fair than at her county fair, and had allegedly represented the two animals as one — a violation of the 4-H code of ethics. The family denies the allegation.

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In an order filed Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier threw out a portion of the lawsuit seeking money individually from two state 4-H officials — Rod Geppert, who was then a Brule County Extension 4-H representative, and Peter Nielsen, an assistant director of 4-H Youth Development — based on alleged violations of Bayley Kroupa’s constitutional rights.

At the outset of the case, the family asked for $500,000 in punitive damages, plus $300,000 for alleged humiliation and at least $50,000 for civil rights violations.

Kroupa claimed her right of association under the First Amendment, specifically her right to associate with her family, was infringed by 4-H officials. She also claimed her right to due process under the 14th Amendment was denied when she was never given a chance to appeal or present evidence to 4-H officials.

“B.K. (Bayley Kroupa) has failed to carry her burden of proof that her right to association was clearly established and that her right to procedural due process was clearly established,” Schreier wrote.

According to Rollyn Samp, an attorney for Kroupa, Schreier’s ruling doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of monetary damages being awarded in the case.

“There may be monetary claims against others,” Samp said in an interview Thursday with The Daily Republic.

Kroupa has the right to appeal Schreier’s decision, Samp said.

In Wednesday’s ruling, Schreier refused to throw out Kroupa’s claims for injunctive relief based on the same alleged violations of her constitutional rights.

“B.K. introduced evidence that the livestock ethics committee’s decision was motivated by her relationship to her father,” Schreier wrote. “The committee’s motivation or intent is a factual question.”

Schreier also ruled Kroupa was entitled to due process before she was banned from 4-H competition, which means she could be entitled to injunctive relief.

According to Samp, injunctive relief, in this case, means Kroupa would continue to be allowed to take part in 4-H competitions if a jury found in her favor at trial.

In July, Schreier ruled that 4-H officials could not keep Bayley from participating in 4-H competitions while the lawsuit continued. The 4-H officials appealed that decision, but Schreier’s ruling was upheld by Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in September and Bayley continued to compete in 4-H.