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Case Name Brandon A. v. Donahue EE-NH-0010
Docket / Court 1:00-cv-00025 ( D.N.H. )
State/Territory New Hampshire
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
On July 1, 1999, the father of a fourteen year-old educationally disabled student in the Epsom (New Hampshire) School District requested a due process hearing challenging the School District's refusal to provide the student with an extended schoolyear program in a therapeutic setting. He also ... read more >
On July 1, 1999, the father of a fourteen year-old educationally disabled student in the Epsom (New Hampshire) School District requested a due process hearing challenging the School District's refusal to provide the student with an extended schoolyear program in a therapeutic setting. He also alleged that the School District failed to identify the student as "seriously emotionally disturbed" and to create an individualized education program ("IEP") that addressed his emotional disability. In response to the request, the parties unsuccessfully attempted mediation on two occasions.

At the prehearing conference, the school district filed a motion to compel the family to sign a release covering any and all records and oral information in the possession of various psychiatric hospitals, counseling services, and other organizations that provided services. When the family declined to sign, the hearing officer dismissed the matter without prejudice.

This lawsuit ensued: On January 14, 2000, the student became the named plaintiff for a class action against the New Hampshire Department of Education (NHDOE) pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), alleging that the plaintiffs have been denied their right to a due process hearing and a decision within 45 days after a request for a hearing is filed with the NHDOE. Plaintiffs were represented by the Disability Rights Center of New Hampshire.

In the individual matter, after a hearing on October 26, 2000, the parties agreed that the court should remand the plaintiff's individual claims to the original hearing officer. The officer held a two-day hearing on December 19 and 22, 2000, and issued a decision on January 2, 2001. The officer awarded the plaintiff three months of compensatory education and ordered the School District to revise its evaluation and meeting procedures to comply with the IDEA.

But the group matter was not so quickly resolved. On November 22, 2000, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint alleging that the NHDOE's system of hearings denied students their right to a timely impartial due process hearing and corresponding decision under the IDEA. Specifically, from 1989 to 1999, "the NHDOE received about 80 requests per year for due process hearings. Of the 80 requests, a decision was issued in an average of 15.82 cases per year. The remaining cases settled, were resolved through mediation, or were withdrawn. Since 1989, only 11 out of the 171 hearings conducted were decided within 45 days. Furthermore, in 96 out of the 171 hearings held since 1989, the hearing officers took over 100 days to conclude the hearing and reach a decision."

On January 22, 2001, the NHDOE filed a motion to dismiss, which the court (Judge Paul Barbadoro) denied on August 8, 2001. 2001 WL 920046.

On February 8, 2002, the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification. On April 5, 2002, the court denied the plaintiff's motion for class certification. Judge Barbadoro explained that after the court denied the defendant's motion to dismiss, the State implemented new regulations requiring the issuance of a written decision not later than 45 days after receipt by the Commissioner of written notice requesting an administrative due process hearing, and mandating that due process hearing officers attend training sessions including case management programs approved by this court. Because the suit primarily sought an injunction requiring the school to adopt and implement a plan for the conduct of due process hearings--which the state had already done--the court stated it was doubtful as to whether a live case or controversy remained between the parties. 2002 WL 534443.

The defendants accordingly filed a motion to dismiss arguing that the case was moot because the second amended complaint attacked the lawfulness of a superseded regulatory regime. The plaintiffs objected to this motion, and on May 10, 2002, the plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment.

On June 19, 2002, the court denied the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, treated the defendant's motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment on the merits and granted it, closing the case. The court explained that there was no trial-worthy issue whether the new regulatory regime, facially or as-applied, violated properly understood federal law, and that there was no reason to believe that the NHDOE would backtrack from his commitment to comply with properly understood federal law. 2002 WL 1349529.

Plaintiffs appealed, but then voluntarily dismissed their appeal in September 2002. We have no more information about this case, which is closed.

Ginny Lee - 04/08/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) State of New Hampshire Department of Education
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs with learning disability who have been denied their right to a due process hearing and a decision within 45 days after a request for a hearing
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Litigation
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:00-cv-00025-PB (D.N.H.)
EE-NH-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/13/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Order (2001 WL 920046) (D.N.H.)
EE-NH-0010-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/08/2001
Memorandum and Order (2002 WL 534443) (D.N.H.)
EE-NH-0010-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/05/2002
Memorandum and Order (2002 WL 1349529) (D.N.H.)
EE-NH-0010-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/19/2002
Source: Westlaw
Judges Barbadoro, Paul J. Court not on record
EE-NH-0010-0003 | EE-NH-0010-0004 | EE-NH-0010-0005 | EE-NH-0010-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Johnson, Jennifer A. (New Hampshire)
EE-NH-0010-9000
Lospennato, Ronald (New Hampshire)
EE-NH-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Smith, Nancy J. (New Hampshire)
EE-NH-0010-9000
Other Lawyers McCormack, Diane M. (New Hampshire)
EE-NH-0010-9000
Teague, John F. (New Hampshire)
EE-NH-0010-9000
Zelin, Gerald M. (New Hampshire)
EE-NH-0010-9000

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