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Case Name Marie O. v. Edgar ED-IL-0003
Docket / Court 94-ED-1471 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
On March 10, 1994, four infants with disabilities, represented by Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, filed this lawsuit against the State of Illinois in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of a class of approximately 26,000 other children in Illinois ... read more >
On March 10, 1994, four infants with disabilities, represented by Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, filed this lawsuit against the State of Illinois in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of a class of approximately 26,000 other children in Illinois who were eligible for, but not receiving, early intervention services.

Part H of IDEA sets up a federal program which federal funds are granted to states for the development and implementation of systems to provide early intervention services to developmentally-delayed infants and toddlers from birth through age two. According to the complaint, since 1987 to 1994, Illinois had received more than $24 million in federal funds to provide early intervention services. But in this case, the state failed to provide any therapy for a 4 1/2-month-old child who had Down's syndrome. Most of the young children with cerebral palsy, prenatal brain injury, stroke, deafness, Down's syndrome and other disabilities in Illinois did not receive therapy, education, family counseling or social work. A report by the Illinois auditor general estimated that in 1992 only one-fourth of the eligible infants and toddlers, about 9,000 of some 35,000 children, were receiving the required educational and therapeutic services.

The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The declaratory relief they requested was for the court to declare that Illinois' failure to provide all eligible infants with early intervention services under Part H was a violation of their rights under Part H. For injunctive relief, they requested for Illinois to provide early intervention services to all eligible children and to comply with the mandatory aspects of Part H.

On May 2, 1994, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that state sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment barred the lawsuit. On June 13, 1994, however, the court (Judge Charles Kocoras) denied the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint. The court stated that this action was not barred by the Eleventh Amendment because it fell under the Ex parte Young exception. The court held that, because plaintiffs were seeking prospective injunctive relief, the fact that Illinois possibly would have to spend considerable funds to comply with Part H did not remove the action from the strictures of the Ex parte Young doctrine.

On September 25, 1995, the plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment. On October 21, 1995, the defendants filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. On February 1, 1996, the court issued an opinion on the cross-motions, granting the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and denying defendant's. The court held that under the IDEA, all infants and toddlers with disabilities or developmental delays had a right to receive critical early intervention services from their states. This was a first case interpreting a provision of Part H of the IDEA. The court stated that Illinois must provide all eligible children early intervention services, including developmental evaluations and 16 specific therapies and services such as physical, occupational, and speech therapies. 1996 WL 48515.

Over the next few months, the court held hearings to determine how the state would provide early intervention services. On September 19, 1996, the court entered final judgment. The court's judgment concluded that Part H requires that, “after five years, a state ‘shall’ have in effect ‘at a minimum’ certain programs serving ‘all’ eligible children.” The court therefore granted plaintiffs the requested declaratory relief, stating that (1) Illinois was required to have in place a statewide system of programs providing early intervention services to all eligible infants, and (2) Illinois was required to provide the services mandated under Part H. The court also granted detailed injunctive relief designed to require the defendants to bring Illinois into “meaningful compliance” with Part H.

On October 2, 1996, the court appointed an expert to monitor the State of Illinois' compliance with the provisions of the court's order and to report on those matters to the court at appropriate intervals.

On October 17, 1996, the defendants appealed the district court's decision to U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. On December 30, 1997, the Seventh Circuit (Judges Cudahy, Ripple, and Kanne) affirmed the district court's decision. 131 F.3d 610.

On June 8, 1998, a motion for approval of proposed settlement of attorneys' fees was filed by the plaintiff. On June 11, 1998, the court granted the settlement proposal for the attorneys' fees. The defendants paid fees to the plaintiffs (details are unknown).

Over the next few years, enforcement of the court's judgment continued. On February 3, 2000, however, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce final order and judgment of September 16, 1996, arguing that the State was violating the court's order by not complying with the mandates of Part C of the IDEA with respect to specialized services. Specifically, the plaintiffs argued that the State failed to comply with the Part C requirements by allegedly maintaining a policy of denying "specialized services" to infants and toddlers enrolled in Part C services.

On March 15, 2000, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion to enforce final order and judgment and terminated the court's supervision in this matter. The court stated it issued its order in 1996 because the State did not have a system that was adequately meeting the goals of Part C of the IDEA. Since then, the State had substantially complied with the requirements of Part C, so the court found no reason to force the state into providing an optimum level of benefits.

At the end of 2000, the State indicated that it intended in the near future to include in the early intervention system a "quality enhancement" review process. The plaintiffs claimed, however, that the quality enhancement process was deficient because it gave authority to reviewers who did not participate in the planning and forming of the child's individualized family service plan (IFSP) to override the service plan developed by the IFSP team. The plaintiffs moved for injunctive relief to stop this process, but the court denied the motion on January 26, 2001. The quality enhancement review process thus went into effect June 1, 2001.

Meanwhile, the State requested approval for the QE review from the Office of Special Educational Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education. On September 6, 2001, however, OSEP sent a letter to the State indicating that the quality enhancement process did not comply with Part C of the IDEA. The plaintiffs thus moved the court to require the State to produce the names of all individuals in the program so that the plaintiffs could notify them that they were entitled to reevaluation of their services under the IDEA. On December 5, 2002, the court denied this motion, concluding that allowing disclosure of the names would be improper.

On November 17, 2004, the plaintiffs filed a motion for an award of attorneys' fees and costs. This motion was denied by the court on January 12, 2005. The court stated that although the plaintiffs are prevailing parties for matters up until May 2001, it would be too tenuous to award three years' worth of attorneys' fees for the monitoring and judicial oversight of defendant's compliance.

There are no further updates. There is no reason to believe the case is ongoing.

Ginny Lee - 04/03/2017

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Content of Injunction
disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Defendant(s) Governor of Illinois
Plaintiff Description Four infants with disabilities, represented by Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, on behalf of a class of approximately 26,000 other children in Illinois who were eligible for, but not receiving, early intervention services.
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
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1996 - 2000
Filed 03/10/1994
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
1:94−cv−01471 (N.D. Ill.)
ED-IL-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/12/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 14] (1994 WL 262193) (N.D. Ill.)
ED-IL-0003-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/13/1994
Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 26] (157 F.R.D. 433) (N.D. Ill.)
ED-IL-0003-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/25/1994
Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Opinion (1996 WL 48515) (N.D. Ill.)
ED-IL-0003-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/02/1996
Source: Westlaw
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 64] (131 F.3d 610)
ED-IL-0003-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/02/1997
Source: Westlaw
Minute Order [ECF# 153] (N.D. Ill.)
ED-IL-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/15/2000
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Minute Order [ECF# 190] (N.D. Ill.)
ED-IL-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/04/2002
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Minute Order [ECF# 197] (N.D. Ill.)
ED-IL-0003-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/12/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Cudahy, Richard Dickson (Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
Kanne, Michael Stephen (N.D. Ind., Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
Kocoras, Charles Petros (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
ED-IL-0003-0002 | ED-IL-0003-0003 | ED-IL-0003-0004 | ED-IL-0003-0005 | ED-IL-0003-0006 | ED-IL-0003-0007 | ED-IL-0003-9000
Ripple, Kenneth Francis (Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berman, Karen Margot (Illinois) show/hide docs
Fain, Lisa Zachary (Illinois) show/hide docs
Fenton, Richard Lee (Illinois) show/hide docs
Lehrer, Robert E. (Illinois) show/hide docs
Redleaf, Diane L. (Illinois) show/hide docs
Rosen, Jennifer Naomi (Illinois) show/hide docs
Scheidt, Donna L. (Michigan) show/hide docs
Segal, Tracy Tatnall (Florida) show/hide docs
Solis, Tina B. (Illinois) show/hide docs
Thompson, Jill Anne (Illinois) show/hide docs
Vanderwicken, Sarah (Illinois) show/hide docs
Wilson, Kelly C. (Wisconsin) show/hide docs
Woltjen, Maria (Illinois) show/hide docs
Zimmerman, Amy Lauren (Illinois) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Ioppolo, Thomas A. (Illinois) show/hide docs

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