B.K. v. 4–H

Citation877 F.Supp.2d 804
Decision Date29 August 2012
Docket NumberNo. CIV. 12–4046–KES.,CIV. 12–4046–KES.
PartiesB.K., a minor, through Greg KROUPA, her guardian ad litem, Plaintiff, v. 4–H, a South Dakota Unincorporated Association; Peter A. Nielson, individually and in his official capacity as Assistant Director of 4–H Youth Development; Rod Geppert, individually and in his official capacity as Brule County Extension 4–H representative; John Does, of the South Dakota 4–H Livestock Ethics Committee unidentified in any communication from the other Defendants or in the 2011 South Dakota 4–H Division Handbook of the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service in their individual and official capacities; and MARY DOES, of the South Dakota 4–H Livestock Ethics Committee unidentified in any communication from the other Defendants or in the 2011 South Dakota 4–H Division Handbook of the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service in their individual and official capacities, Defendants.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota


Rollyn H. Samp, Samp Law Office, John Ryan Pekas, Leo T. Flynn, Sioux Falls, SD, for Plaintiff.

Mitchel L. Martin, Gary P. Thimsen, Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith, PC, Sioux Falls, SD, for Defendant.



Plaintiff, B.K., a minor, through Greg Kroupa, her father and guardian ad litem, brought suit against defendants, 4–H, Peter Nielson, Rod Geppert, John Does, and Mary Does 1 in their individual and official capacities, alleging violations of her First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 after she was banned from participating in 4–H exhibition shows. Defendants move to dismiss B.K.'s claims against 4–H and against Nielson and Geppert in their official capacities, which plaintiff opposes. B.K. moves for a preliminary injunction to enjoin defendants from precluding B.K.'s participation in 4–H and to refrain from interfering with B.K.'s participation in 4–H activities, which defendants oppose. On June 8, 2012, the court conducted a hearing on the motions and allowed the parties to submit supplemental briefs.


The pertinent facts to this order are as follows:

Greg Kroupa and his wife have four children, all of whom have participated or currently participate in 4–H. Tr. 9:14–15.2 Two of the children, including B.K., still participate in the Brule County, South Dakota, 4–H program. Tr. 9:15; Tr. 16:17–21. B.K. is currently 16 years old. Tr. 9:17–18. Greg testified that [t]here's not a more competitive family in the state, let alone in the union, that's been more successful than my children have been at national levels as well as the state competition.” Tr. 10:4–7. According to Greg, his family is “the only family in South Dakota that has ever won at a national steer show level in Denver National Western in 2008.” Tr. 11:4–5. Beyond 4–H, the family is also involved in breeding animals, which is part of Greg's business. Tr. 11:6–10.

B.K. has been involved with 4–H since she was eight years old. Tr. 43:19–20. She used to be involved with sports, but she had to choose between sports and 4–H. Tr. 43:24–44:5. B.K. testified that she “made the choice to do 4–H, because that's what meant the most to me.” Tr. 44:4–5. B.K. is also involved with FFA (Future Farmers of America), FCCLA (Future Career and Community Leaders of America), and FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America). Tr. 44:8–16. The school provides excused absences for 4–H events and congratulates students who do well at 4–H events, but 4–H is not a school-run program. Tr. 17–24. B.K. hopes to take over the family farm and business one day. Tr. 46:14–16.

Winning a livestock competition sometimes includes a monetary award. For example, a Sale of Champions award can be substantial, such as the $110,000 award that one of Greg's other daughters won at the Sale of Champions in Denver. Tr. 26:24–27:3. In approximately 2009, B.K. won $22,000 at the NAILE Louisville Livestock Show for a reserve champion steer, and she put the $22,000 into her college fund. Tr. 46:7–13. The South Dakota State Fair is a terminal event, meaning that after the animal is shown, it must be sold for slaughter; it may not be used for breeding purposes. Tr. 38:11–18. The total award at the South Dakota State Fair for a champion animal is the value of the carcass and a $500 cash award. Tr. 26:13–27:3; Tr. 28:11–20.

The South Dakota State Fair took place from September 1 through September 6, 2011, and B.K. participated in the swine event. Tr. 11:11–13:18. One of the pigs that B.K. showed was named Moe, a crossbreed belted barrow. Tr. 13:18–14:25.

The family bought Moe from Aaron Cooper, who trades in show pig prospects, at a mutual acquaintance's farm in Nebraska. Tr. 39:9–40:6. Neither B.K. nor Greg maintained records of Moe's sale. Tr. 40:15–41:6. B.K. trained Moe to drive by giving him marshmallows as a treat if he successfully completed the exercise. Tr. 13:20–14:4; Tr. 45:21–24; Tr. 55:22–56:13 ([Y]ou use the term ‘driving,’ because when you hit him on his jowl, he will move whichever direction you put him in.”). Moe received reserve grand honors for the entire 4–H division, and he was the champion market barrow at the FFA show at the fair's conclusion. Tr. 14:9–13.

After the fair, B.K. received e-mails, text messages, and Facebook messages from 4–H members stating that B.K. did not care for Moe, she was a cheater, a liar, and a hypocrite, and she was not a good 4–H leader. Tr. 17:25–18:1; Tr. 47:12–21. B.K. found these messages to be hurtful, and she eventually deleted her Facebook account due to the hurtful messages. Tr. 48:2–5. B.K. told her parents about the comments. Tr. 48:12–19.

Greg called Geppert about the harassment. Tr. 18:17–24. Geppert told Greg that he would speak with Nielson and get back to Greg. Tr. 19:6–9. Greg had a phone call with Geppert, and possibly also Nielson, regarding the situation. Tr. 19:10–21:1. Greg testified that the family did not have any other contact with either Geppert or Nielson until the family received a letter dated October 3, 2011, from Nielson. Exhibit 2; Docket 25–1. The letter stated that B.K. was banned from 4–H:

This letter is to inform you that you will no longer be allowed to participate in South Dakota 4–H exhibition programs. When you enrolled in the South Dakota 4–H program, you and your parent/ guardian signed the South Dakota 4–H Code of Conduct Policy and Procedures document agreeing to certain behaviors at all 4–H events and activities (4–H821). The code notified you that those who have been found to have violated the code of ethics “will forfeit premiums and awards and may be prohibited from future exhibitions.” The code also required that you as an exhibitor “... affirm that ... [you] ... have owned and/or cared for ... your ... project animal....” It also goes on to say that, “Misrepresentations of ownership, age, identification numbers or facts relating thereto is prohibited.” After being shown pictures on September 9, 2011, your father, Mr. Greg Kroupa, admitted to Mr. Rod Geppert and then, to Mr. Peter Nielson that you have not owned or cared for your recent swine entry for the project season. He also admitted that your swine entry had been submitted and competed in this year's Missouri State Fair. The South Dakota 4–H Livestock Ethics Committee met on September 20, 2011 and concluded that you misrepresented the ownership of this animal and violated the code of ethics.

Based on the events surrounding the misrepresentation of ownership of your Reserve Champion Over-all 4–H Market Swine entry, the State 4–H Office has permanently removed you from the South Dakota 4–H exhibition program and any future eligibility or participation in such programs. In addition, you are ineligible to receive any awards of premium monies from the 4–H Swine Project or 4–H Beef Project areas of the 2011 South Dakota State Fair. The South Dakota 4–H program takes the Behavioral Expectations and Code of Conduct outlined in 4–H821 very seriously and does not take this action lightly.

Exhibit 2; Docket 25–1.

In an affidavit, Nielson stated he, along with Geppert, investigated whether B.K. had violated 4–H's ethics. Docket 25 ¶ 4. Nielson maintains that when he “confronted Greg Kroupa, [Greg] admitted the swine had been shown in the Missouri State Fair and that B.K. had not owned or cared for B.K.'s recent swine entry for the project season[.] Docket 25 ¶ 5.

During the hearing, Greg and B.K. maintained that B.K. cared for Moe, and Greg contended that he did not tell Nielson and Geppert otherwise. Tr. 23:11–24:13; Tr. 50:7–15; Tr. 45:16–20. Greg further asserted that Moe did not compete in the Missouri State Fair. Tr. 24:5–8.

Neither B.K. nor Greg received notification that the Livestock Ethics Committee was going to meet on September 20, 2011. Tr. 24:15–18; Tr. 50:19–51:2. B.K. never received the opportunity to appear before the Ethics Committee, but Greg received a text message from Geppert stating that the matter “was under an Advisory Committee hands[.] Tr. 24:19–23. After the Ethics Committee made its decision, Greg met with Nielson to determine if a compromise could be reached, and Nielson informed him that the decision was final. Tr. 25:23–26:7. Nielson did not identify the Ethics Committee's members for Greg. Tr. 26:6–12. B.K. has never met Nielson. Tr. 51:9–15.

Dawn Cable is one of B.K.'s 4–H leaders for Brule County. Tr. 58:1–22. Geppert sent Cable a text message stating that B.K. had been banned from shows. Tr. 59:6–60:1. Geppert told Cable to contact Nielson with questions, but she never did. Tr. 59:25–60:3. In her 27 years of experience with 4–H, Cable had never heard of a student being banned from showing animals. Tr. 61:3–5.

While B.K. is banned from showing her animals and participating in events, she is still...

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    ...denied the preliminary injunction; and (2) if the court improperly granted the preliminary injunction.” B.K. ex rel. Kroupa v. 4–H , 877 F.Supp.2d 804, 822 (D.S.D.2012), aff'd sub nom. Kroupa v. Nielsen , 731 F.3d 813 (8th Cir.2013) (citing Scotts Co. v. United Indus. Corp. , 315 F.3d 264, ......
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