University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name D.L. v. District of Columbia ED-DC-0003
Docket / Court 1:05-cv-01437-RCL ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Education
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
The named plaintiffs, former preschool-aged children with various disabilities, filed this lawsuit against the District of Columbia in July 2005 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs alleged that the District had engaged in a pattern and practice of failing to ... read more >
The named plaintiffs, former preschool-aged children with various disabilities, filed this lawsuit against the District of Columbia in July 2005 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs alleged that the District had engaged in a pattern and practice of failing to provide special education and related services to them and other children, in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794(a), the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and District of Columbia law. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, reimbursement for funds expended by them to obtain education services denied them by defendants' legal violations, and "compensatory education."

In August 2006, the Court (Judge Royce Lamberth) certified a class action pursuant to Rules 23(a) and 23(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The plaintiff class is defined as: All children who are or may be eligible for special education and related services, who live in, or are wards of, the District of Columbia, and (1) whom defendants did not identify, locate, evaluate or offer special education and related services to when the child was between the ages of three and five years old, inclusive, or (2) whom defendants have not or will not identify, locate, evaluate or offer special education and related services to when the child is between the ages of three and five years old, inclusive.

Toward the end of discovery, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. In August 2010, Judge Lamberth ruled upon those motions and concluded, among other things, that defendants "denied a [free appropriate public education ("FAPE")] to a large number of children aged 3 to 5 years old, in violation of § 1412(a)(1)(A) of the IDEA." However, this ruling applied only for the period 2007 and earlier, which were the only years for which data was available.

In 2011, and about a month before a scheduled bench trial that would determine defendants' remaining liability, defendants filed a Motion to Decertify the Class, arguing that plaintiffs lacked standing and could no longer satisfy the commonality or typicality requirements of Rule 23(a). In April 2011, before ruling on defendants' decertification motion, the Court held a two-day bench trial on the question of defendants' liability for the period 2008 to the present. At the end of the trial, Judge Lamberth ordered the parties to file proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, reserving decision for a later date.

While the decision was pending, the Supreme Court handed down Wal-Mart v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541 (June 2011), holding that class action status was inappropriate in a nationwide employment discrimination case brought by female employees. Judge Lamberth nonetheless denied class decertification in an opinion issued November 16, 2011, which also found the District liable for additional IDEA violations. The District appealed, and the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed on class certification, and remanded for additional consideration. The appeals court was concerned about a class made up of members with different types of claims.

Back in the trial court, Judge Lamberth denied the city's request to dismiss the case (on the grounds that the plaintiffs were now too old to have standing to sue). The Court held the plaintiffs' standing at the time they filed their complaint was sufficient, given the "inherently transitory" nature of special education litigation. Judge Lamberth certified four subclasses of plaintiffs in response to the D.C. Circuit's ruling: children who were not identified for services; children who weren't provided with a timely evaluation; children who didn't receive a timely decision about their eligibility; and children who weren't provided with a "smooth and effective" transition into preschool programs.

On October 14, 2014, both parties filed motions for summary judgment on which the court has yet to rule.

Claire Lally - 11/04/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Disability
disability, unspecified
Mental impairment
Mobility impairment
General
Classification / placement
Individualized planning
Special education
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Plaintiff Type
City/County Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) District of Columbia
Plaintiff Description Children between the ages of 3-5 with disabilities in the District of Columbia public school system.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:05-cv-1437 (D.D.C.) 10/30/2014
ED-DC-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 07/21/2005
ED-DC-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Reply Memorandum in Support of Motion to Compel Production of Documents by Plaintiffs 08/23/2006
ED-DC-0003-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [denying motion to dismiss] 08/25/2006 (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [denying motion to Dismiss Section 504 Claim and Defendant Superintendent] 08/25/2006 (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [granting motion for class certification] 08/25/2006 (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 06/27/2008 (251 F.R.D. 38) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 03/11/2009 (256 F.R.D. 239) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 08/10/2010 (730 F.Supp.2d 78) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment] 08/10/2010 (730 F.Supp.2d 84) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 05/09/2011 (274 F.R.D. 320) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion & Finding of Fact and Conclusions of Law 11/16/2011 (845 F.Supp.2d 1) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion (Class Action Issues) 11/16/2011 (277 F.R.D. 38) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 11/16/2011 (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum & Order 04/25/2012 (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 11/08/2013 (2013 WL 5952164) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 11/08/2013
ED-DC-0003-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [Granting in Part and Denying in Part Motion for Class Certification] 11/08/2013 (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0019.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 01/03/2014 (2014 WL 29260) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lamberth, Royce C. (D.D.C., FISC)
ED-DC-0003-0002 | ED-DC-0003-0003 | ED-DC-0003-0004 | ED-DC-0003-0005 | ED-DC-0003-0006 | ED-DC-0003-0007 | ED-DC-0003-0009 | ED-DC-0003-0010 | ED-DC-0003-0011 | ED-DC-0003-0012 | ED-DC-0003-0013 | ED-DC-0003-0015 | ED-DC-0003-0017 | ED-DC-0003-0018 | ED-DC-0003-0019 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Benfer, Emily Anne (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-9000
Gluckman, Todd A. (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0016 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Gutman, Jeffrey S. (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0001 | ED-DC-0003-0016 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Karam, Alexander R. (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-9000
Kohn, Margaret A. (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0001 | ED-DC-0003-0016 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Liu, Jane (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0016 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Majeed, Sameena Shina (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0001 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Mehri, Cyrus (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-9000
Millian, Kathleen (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0001 | ED-DC-0003-0016
Terris, Bruce J (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0001 | ED-DC-0003-0016 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Blecher, Matthew Robert (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-9000
Copeland, Chad Wayne (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-9000
Hutton, Caroline B. (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-9000
Kantor, Jayme (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-9000
Kaplan, Samuel C. (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-9000
Miller, Eden Ilene (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0014 | ED-DC-0003-0014 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Rezneck, Daniel A. (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0014 | ED-DC-0003-0014 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Spagnoletti, Robert J. (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0014
Sulkowski, Sarah Ann (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-9000
Taptich, Edward P. (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0014
Utiger, Robert C. (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-9000
Valentine, George C. (District of Columbia)
ED-DC-0003-0014
Other Lawyers None on record

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