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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Felix v. Lingle CW-HI-0001
Docket / Court 1:93-cv-00367-DAE ( D. Haw. )
State/Territory Hawaii
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Special Collection Olmstead Cases
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
In May 1993, a class of over 13,000 children with disabilities residing in Hawaii sued the state, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, for failing to provide educational and mental health services to students. The plaintiffs were represented by the Hawaii Disability Rights Center ... read more >
In May 1993, a class of over 13,000 children with disabilities residing in Hawaii sued the state, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, for failing to provide educational and mental health services to students. The plaintiffs were represented by the Hawaii Disability Rights Center and private counsel.

On May 24, 1994 U.S. District Court Judge Ezra found the State liable for its failure to provide services to plaintiff class under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504.

The parties reached a settlement agreement in October 1994, which provided that Hawaii develop educational and mental health supports and services, programs, and placement in accordance with the IDEA and Section 504. This was approved by the Court on October 25; Judge Ezra appointed a special master and a court monitor to facilitate compliance.

The terms of the decree included:

  • The Departments of Education and Health were named responsible agencies but were obligated to form partnerships with other state and private agencies.
  • The State is required to establish a system of care of programs, placements, services, and an organizational and managerial infrastructure to support it.
  • The State was required to develop an implementation plan within seven months.
  • The State was required to establish maintenance of service programs as measured by May 1994 appropriations.
  • Full implementation was to be complete by June 30, 2000.
  • The state agreed to pay all costs for the court monitor, the technical assistance panel, plaintiff counsel, and the special master.

The plan was subsequently amended in August 1996 and December 1998.

On May 30, 2000 Judge Ezra found the State in contempt for failing to design and implement the system of care stipulated in the consent
decree. The Court added requirements to the decree that Hawaii meet infrastructure and initial performance benchmarks. The Court also ordered monitoring to verify improvements and compliance.

At this point, the Hawaii Legislature initiated an investigation into fiscal issues related to the consent decree. The state Office of Auditor assisted in the investigation by providing reports on use of funds by the Departments of Health and Education. The Office of Auditor recommended that the Departments implement coordinated capabilities for reporting and analysis of costs, including the use of consistent measurements for children's progress to ensure that health services were effective in meeting educational goals.

Because Hawaii had substantially complied with the Consent Decree by September 2002, the Court shifted the burden of monitoring to the state Department of Education and Health. In April 2004, the State met its obligation and the Consent Decree was terminated after an additional five quarters of reporting on key indicators.

None of the documents for this case are available via PACER, except the docket sheet. And there are no opinions available online, either. There is, however, a great deal of information available at this site, also linked below. Much of the summary above is based on the December 2001 audit posted there (and also here in the Clearinghouse).

Elizabeth Homan - 10/29/2012

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
disability, unspecified
Integrated setting
Mental impairment
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Government Services (specify)
Neglect by staff
Placement in mental health facilities
Reasonable Accommodations
School/University Facilities
Special education
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual disability/mental illness dual diagnosis
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Mental Disability
Developmental disability without intellectual disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Learning disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
State Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. ยง 701
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Defendant(s) Hawaii
Plaintiff Description All children and adolescents with disabilities residing in Hawaii who are eligible for and in need of education and mental health services pursuant to the IDEA but for whom such services are either unavailable, inadequate, or inappropriate․
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1994 - n/a
Filing Year 1993
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Legal Accountability in the Service-Based Welfare State: Lessons from Child Welfare Reform
Date: Summer 2009
By: Kathleen G. Noonan, Charles F. Sabel, William H. Simon (Center for High Impact Philanthropy , Columbia Law School and Stanford Law School Faculty)
Citation: 34 Law & Soc. Inquiry 523 (Summer 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

1:93-cv-00367-DAE (D. Haw.)
CW-HI-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/31/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Legislative Report
CW-HI-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Legislative Report
CW-HI-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/01/2001
Follow-Up and Management Audit of the Felix Consent Decree
CW-HI-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/17/2001
Report of the Joint Senate-House Investigative Committee to Investigate the State's Compliance With the Felix Consent Decree
CW-HI-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/26/2001
Judges Ezra, David Alan (D. Haw.)
Monitors/Masters Portnoy, Jeffrey S. (Hawaii)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Carroll, Benjamin L. (Hawaii)
Cooper, Susan A. (Hawaii)
Dome, Dora J. (Hawaii)
Floyd, Shelby Anne (Hawaii)
Martin, Mary L. (Hawaii)
Schember-Lang, Jennifer (Hawaii)
Seitz, Eric A. (Hawaii)
Varady, Carl M. (Hawaii)
Young, Suzanne J. (Hawaii)
Defendant's Lawyers Aina, Charleen (Hawaii)
Chang, Steven K. (Hawaii)
Chiu, Joelle K. (Hawaii)
Faust, Sonia (Hawaii)
Goto, Blair A. (Hawaii)
Marks, Robert A. (Hawaii)
Otaguro, Lynn M. (Hawaii)
Rian, Heidi M. (Hawaii)
Shikada, Holly T. (Hawaii)
Suzuki, Russell A. (Hawaii)
Wong, John C. (Hawaii)
Other Lawyers Fell, Charles F. (Hawaii)
Fletcher, Elizabeth G. (Hawaii)
Harada, Lyle Y. (Hawaii)
Kawashima, James (Hawaii)
Keller, Thomas R. (Hawaii)
Sellers, Dorothy D. (Hawaii)

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