On October 11, 2005, students from various district of California public schools filed this class action suit, in conjunction with the American Diabetes Association, in the United States District Court of the Northern District of California. The suit was filed under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act against the California Department of Education and various school districts throughout California. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel as well as the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, asked the court for class action certification and an injunction compelling districts to provide all children with diabetes care to enable them to access education.
The plaintiffs claimed that the school districts, often not having a full-time nurse on duty, were not providing appropriate care and management of diabetes for students with the disease. The students, who often cannot administer or monitor their own glucose levels, were either made to change their physician-mandated medical plans due to the schools' lack of resources, miss large amounts of class time while waiting in the office for a family member to come to school to administer an insulin shot, or to miss school due to lack of resources for monitoring blood sugar and administering insulin shots, among other consequences. The plaintiffs claim that this denies them a free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment possible due to a physical disability, violating the above statutes.
By August 2007, the plaintiffs had reached settlement agreements with various parties and had dismissed the complaints against the defendants. A 2007 Legal Advisory of the California Department of Education states that the settlement agreement, among other things, requires California public schools to provide management of diabetes and administer insulin in accordance with the child's physician's management plan. The 2007 Legal Advisory also notes that school placement cannot be based on the unwillingness of a school to provide for a child with diabetes and that plans must be individualized.
In an offshoot of this litigation, American Nurses Assn. v. Torlakson (ED-CA-0009)
, a group of nurses challenged the 2007 Legal Advisory as in violation of state law. A trial and appellate court agreed, but the California Supreme Court reversed, explaining that "California law does permit trained, unlicensed school personnel to administer prescription medications, including insulin, in accordance with written statements of individual students' treating physicians, with parental consent (Ed. Code §§ 49423, 49423.6; tit. 5 §§ 600-611.)..." American Nurses Association v. Tom Torlakson, 57 Cal.4th 570 (2013), 591. The settlement therefore survived that state court challenge.
On April 20, 2012, the District Court (Judge Maxime M. Chesney) denied a motion by the plaintiff for attorney's fees and expenses for ongoing monitoring of defendants' compliance on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction. 2012 WL 1380243. That decision was overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Nguyen on August 11, 2014, which affirmed the District Court's jurisdiction over the matter and remanded to the District Court to decide whether or not to award attorneys' fees to the plaintiffs. 762 F.3d 963.
On remand, on March 20, 2015, Judge Chesney held that attorneys fees were appropriate; the parties then settled the fee issues and the case was dismissed on July 1, 2015.Claire Lally - 10/09/2014