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Case Name Gary B. v. Snyder ED-MI-0006
Docket / Court 2:16-cv-13292-SJM-APP ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Education
Attorney Organization Public Counsel
Case Summary
On September 13, 2016, seven school children, represented by a California public interest law firm, filed this class action suit against Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and state education officials in the Eastern District of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs alleged that the state ... read more >
On September 13, 2016, seven school children, represented by a California public interest law firm, filed this class action suit against Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and state education officials in the Eastern District of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs alleged that the state denied students their constitutional right to literacy.

The plaintiffs were students at five of Detroit’s lowest performing schools: Hamilton Academy, Experiencia Preparatory Academy, Medicine and Community Health Academy at Cody, Osborn Academy of Mathematics, and Osborn Evergreen Academy of Design and Alternative Energy. The student proficiency rates in these schools hovered near zero in core subject areas. At Hamilton, for example, 100% of the 6th graders scored below proficiency in both reading and math.

The complaint documented what it alleged to be pervasive conditions that denied children the opportunity to attain literacy, including lack of books, classrooms without teachers, insufficient desks, buildings plagued by vermin, unsafe facilities, and extreme temperatures.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the fundamental right to literacy, as compared to other students in Michigan, and by functionally excluding plaintiffs from Michigan’s statewide system of public education. Second, the plaintiffs argued that the defendants violated the state-created danger doctrine by affirmatively creating and increasing the risk that plaintiffs would be exposed to dangerous conditions, from which the plaintiffs were harmed as a result. Third, the plaintiffs argued that the defendants violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by intentionally discriminating against the plaintiffs, or responding with deliberate indifference, on the basis of the plaintiffs’ race. Fourth, the complaint alleged that the defendants violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when the defendants utilized criteria or methods of administration that had the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of their race, color, or national origin.

The defendants sought a judicial declaration that the defendants had violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, they asked the court to order the State to provide appropriate, evidence-based literacy instruction at all grade levels and to address physical school conditions that impaired access to literacy.

On November 17, 2016, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The defendants argued that the claims brought by the plaintiffs are non-justiciable because the plaintiffs lacked standing under U.S. Constitution, Article III, §2; the relief requested was barred by Eleventh Amendment immunity; and the claims themselves were barred by the Rooker/Feldman Doctrine. As to the last point, the defendants argued that a case with similar claims that sought to include all children of the Detroit Public Schools was brought and dismissed in state court (Moore v. Snyder), and that by bringing this case, the plaintiffs were asking the Federal District Court to review state judicial proceedings, which the court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction to do. Furthermore, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs claims must be dismissed because they failed on the merits: there was no fundamental right to literacy, the claim failed under the state-created danger doctrine, there was no constitutional violation on the basis of race, and there was no discrimination under Title VI.

Several amicus briefs have been filed for both parties. On May 16, 2017 District Court Judge Stephen J. Murphy III held a hearing on the motion to dismiss. On July 27, 2018, Judge Murphy granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. 329 F.Supp.3d 344. He found that there was no constitutional right to access literacy and that Michigan's implementation of various educational laws was not irrational and thus did not violate the Equal Protection Clause.

On July 30, 2018, the plaintiffs appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Judges Eric Clay, Jane Stranch, and Eric Murphy heard oral arguments on October 24, 2019. As of April 2020, the appeal is still pending and the case is ongoing.

Soojin Cha - 10/03/2016
Mackenzie Walz - 03/22/2018
Hope Brinn - 04/08/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Elementary/Secondary School
Race discrimination
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Defendant(s) Governor of Michigan
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are seven school children in Michigan who attend schools that have histories of poor performance.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Public Counsel
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 09/13/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Gary B. v. Snyder
Right to Literacy Detroit
Date: 2016
By: Right to Literacy Detroit
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

2:16-cv-13292 (E.D. Mich.)
ED-MI-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
ED-MI-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/13/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [60] [ECF# 117] (329 F.Supp.3d 344) (E.D. Mich.)
ED-MI-0006-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/27/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Murphy, Stephen Joseph III (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
ED-MI-0006-0002 | ED-MI-0006-9000
Patti, Anthony P. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anderson, Joshua E. (California) show/hide docs
ED-MI-0006-0001 | ED-MI-0006-9000
Caminker, Evan H. (California) show/hide docs
Chemerinsky, Erwin (California) show/hide docs
Eidmann, Kathryn A. (California) show/hide docs
ED-MI-0006-0001 | ED-MI-0006-9000
Flint, Tacy F. (Illinois) show/hide docs
ED-MI-0006-0001 | ED-MI-0006-9000
Haddad, Mark E. (California) show/hide docs
ED-MI-0006-0001 | ED-MI-0006-9000
Hartz, Alisa Louise (California) show/hide docs
ED-MI-0006-0001 | ED-MI-0006-9000
Hudson-Price, Anne M. (California) show/hide docs
Kelley, Michael C. (California) show/hide docs
ED-MI-0006-0001 | ED-MI-0006-9000
Lassar, Scott R. (Illinois) show/hide docs
McGehee, Cary S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
Miller, Bruce A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
ED-MI-0006-0001 | ED-MI-0006-9000
Phillips, Carter G (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ED-MI-0006-0001 | ED-MI-0006-9000
Rosenbaum, Mark Dale (California) show/hide docs
ED-MI-0006-0001 | ED-MI-0006-9000
Wheeler, Jennifer M. (Illinois) show/hide docs
ED-MI-0006-0001 | ED-MI-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bennett, Katherine J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
Haynes, Timothy J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
Ludwig, Jonathan S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
Smith, Joshua S (Michigan) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Brewer, Mark C. (Michigan) show/hide docs
Clark, Dennis J (Michigan) show/hide docs
Hollowell, Melvin B (Michigan) show/hide docs
McCargo, Samuel (Michigan) show/hide docs
Metlitsky, Anton (New York) show/hide docs
Savit, Eli (Michigan) show/hide docs
Widick, Marshall J. (Michigan) show/hide docs

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