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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. )
Additional Docket(s) 11-07153  [ 11-7153 ]
12-07042  [ 12-7042 ]
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Education
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
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. 237 F.R.D. 319. 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." 730 F. Supp. 2d 84. 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 (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. 713 F.3d 120. The Court of Appeals 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). 302 F.R.D. 1. 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 June 10, 2015, Judge Lamberth granted the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment with respect to all IDEA claims through April 6, 2011, but granted defendant's motion for partial summary judgment for subclass 2 from April 6, 2011 to the present. 109 F. Supp. 3d 12. Judge Lamberth also granted the defendant's motion for partial summary judgment with respect to all Rehabilitation Act claims after March 22, 2010. As such, remaining for trial were the IDEA claims from April 6, 2011 to the present for subclasses 1, 3, and 4, and all Rehabilitation Act claims prior to March 22, 2010.

After the partial grant of summary judgment, a trial was set for November 13, 2015. After conclusion of the trial, Judge Lamberth found for plaintiffs on all remaining claims. 194 F. Supp. 3d 30 (2016). The judgement granted the plaintiffs' request for injunctive relief and attorney's fees. The relief stipulated that the defendants would reach specific numerical benchmarks for enrollment in special education services and come in full compliance with IDEA regulations. The injunction also established reporting requirements and was set to last until the defendant established it was in substantial compliance with the injunction's requirements.

On June 24, 2016, the defendants appealed the judgment, but on June 23, 2017, the court of appeals affirmed the district court's judgment in all respects. 860 F.3d 713.

As part of their relief, the plaintiffs requested over $9 million dollars in attorney's fees. However, Judge Lamberth ordered that plaintiffs recalculate and subtract a 5% penalty. The plaintiffs then revised their figures to approximately $7 million which defendants were ordered to pay.

Still, the plaintiffs appealed the district court's order for calculating attorney's fees. On May 21, 2019, the court of appeals vacated and remanded the district court's order, requiring the district court to provide specific, countervailing evidence justifying its matrix for calculating fees. 924 F.3d 585.

On October 8, 2019, the parties reached a settlement agreement as to attorney's fees and submitted it to the District Court for approval. On March 4, 2020, the district court ordered that the defendants pay the plaintiffs' counsel an additional $1,084,000 in fees and expenses, bringing the total to $8,084,000.

The court continues to monitor compliance with the injunction.

Claire Lally - 11/04/2014
Nichollas Dawson - 03/22/2018
Hope Brinn - 04/13/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Student assignment
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Disability
disability, unspecified
Mental impairment
Mobility impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Classification / placement
Education
Government Services (specify)
Individualized planning
Juveniles
Pattern or Practice
School/University policies
Special education
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Mental Disability
Autism
Developmental disability without intellectual disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
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
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Order Duration 2016 - n/a
Filed 07/21/2005
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Superintendent Letter on Current Practices
DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Date: Aug. 30, 2017
By: Amy Maisterra (District of Columbia Schools)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
16-7076 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
ED-DC-0003-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/10/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
18-7004 (U.S. Court of Appeals)
ED-DC-0003-9002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/08/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
1:05-cv-1437 (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
ED-DC-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/21/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Reply Memorandum in Support of Motion to Compel Production of Documents by Plaintiffs [ECF# 51]
ED-DC-0003-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/23/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [denying motion to dismiss] [ECF# 53] (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/25/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [denying motion to Dismiss Section 504 Claim and Defendant Superintendent] [ECF# 55] (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/25/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [granting motion for class certification] [ECF# 57] (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/25/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 107] (251 F.R.D. 38) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/27/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 139] (256 F.R.D. 239) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/11/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 196] (730 F.Supp.2d 78) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/10/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment] [ECF# 196] (730 F.Supp.2d 84) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/10/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 247] (274 F.R.D. 320) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/09/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion & Finding of Fact and Conclusions of Law [ECF# 294] (845 F.Supp.2d 1) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/16/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion (Class Action Issues) [ECF# 297] (277 F.R.D. 38) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/16/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 299] (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/16/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum & Order [ECF# 322] (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/25/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 388] (2013 WL 5952164) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/08/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [Granting in Part and Denying in Part Motion for Class Certification] [ECF# 389] (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/08/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 398]
ED-DC-0003-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/08/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 404] (2014 WL 29260) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/03/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion & Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [ECF# 520] (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/18/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 521] (2016 WL 2907713) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0021.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/18/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Corrected Memorandum Opinion & Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [ECF# 533] (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/21/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the United States [ECF# 564]
ED-DC-0003-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/27/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [USCA DC Circuit] [Ct. of App. ECF# 586]
ED-DC-0003-0025.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/23/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 580] (267 F.Supp.3d 55) (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0024.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/25/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 590] (D.D.C.)
ED-DC-0003-0026.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/15/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 1788691]
ED-DC-0003-0027.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/21/2019
show all people docs
Judges Garland, Merrick B. (D.C. Circuit) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0027
Griffith, Thomas Beall (D.C. Circuit) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0025
Lamberth, Royce C. (FISC, D.D.C.) show/hide docs
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-0003-0020 | ED-DC-0003-0021 | ED-DC-0003-0022 | ED-DC-0003-0024 | ED-DC-0003-0026 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Millett, Patricia Ann (D.C. Circuit) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0025
Sentelle, David Bryan (W.D.N.C., D.C. Circuit) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0027
Tatel, David S. (D.C. Circuit) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0025 | ED-DC-0003-0027
Plaintiff's Lawyers Benfer, Emily Anne (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Gluckman, Todd A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0016 | ED-DC-0003-9000 | ED-DC-0003-9001 | ED-DC-0003-9002
Gutman, Jeffrey S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0001 | ED-DC-0003-0016 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Karam, Alexander R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Kohn, Margaret A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0001 | ED-DC-0003-0016 | ED-DC-0003-9000 | ED-DC-0003-9001 | ED-DC-0003-9002
Liu, Jane (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0016 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Majeed, Sameena Shina (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0001 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Mehri, Cyrus (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000 | ED-DC-0003-9001 | ED-DC-0003-9002
Millian, Kathleen (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0001 | ED-DC-0003-0016 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Pravlik, Carolyn Smith (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000 | ED-DC-0003-9001 | ED-DC-0003-9002
Seffel, Lauren (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Sheldon, Patrick A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001
Terris, Bruce J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0001 | ED-DC-0003-0016 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Alikhan, Loren L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001 | ED-DC-0003-9002
Blecher, Matthew Robert (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Copeland, Chad Wayne (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Hutton, Caroline B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Kantor, Jayme (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Kaplan, Samuel C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Kim, Todd Sunhwae (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001
Miller, Eden Ilene (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0014 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Morton, Honey (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Pittman, Lucy E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001 | ED-DC-0003-9002
Racine, Karl A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001 | ED-DC-0003-9002
Rezneck, Daniel A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0014 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Rich, Robert Joseph (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Saindon, Andrew J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Spagnoletti, Robert J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0014
Sulkowski, Sarah Ann (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Taptich, Edward P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0014
Tonnesen, Sara Elizabeth (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Utiger, Robert C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9000
Valentine, George C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0014
Van Zile, Caroline S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9002
Other Lawyers Bagby, Kelly R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001
Burnim, Ira Abraham (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001
Clark, Mary Nell McGarity (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001
Gonzalez, Iris Y. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001
Greenbaum, Jon M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001
Hager, Ron (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001
Kirkpatrick, Michael T (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9002
Kohrman, Daniel Benjamin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001
Perkins, Martha Jane (North Carolina) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9001
Pfaffenroth, Peter C (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0023 | ED-DC-0003-9000
Phillips, Channing D (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0023
Scarborough, Charles W. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-9002
Van Horn, Daniel F (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-DC-0003-0023

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