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Crawford v. Honig

filed: September 30, 1994.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. CV-89-00014-RFP. D.C. No. CV-71-02270-RFP. Robert F. Peckham, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: Cecil F. Poole, Robert R. Beezer, and Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Poole.

Author: Poole

POOLE, Circuit Judge:

In this appeal, we consider whether the district court properly vacated the 1986 modification to its 1979 injunction in Larry P. v. Riles, 495 F. Supp. 926 (N.D. Cal. 1979), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 793 F.2d 969 (9th Cir. 1986). The 1979 Larry P. injunction banned the use of standardized individual intelligence quotient ("I.Q.") tests to evaluate African-American children for placement in classes for the Educable Mentally Retarded ("E.M.R.") or their "substantial equivalent." The 1986 modification, which was made following a settlement after California abolished the E.M.R. category, banned the use of I.Q. tests to evaluate African-American children referred for any special education assessment.

The plaintiffs in this case (" Crawford plaintiffs") are African-American school children who were diagnosed as learning disabled and who sought to have I.Q. tests administered to them. Because the 1986 modification forbade all I.Q. testing of African-American children referred for special education assessment, they were unable to receive the tests. They then filed this action challenging the 1986 modification. The district court consolidated the case with Larry P. and vacated the 1986 modification on summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(4) on the grounds that (1) the Crawford plaintiffs' interests were not represented adequately in the 1986 proceedings and (2) insufficient factual foundation supported the modification. The effect of the district court's summary judgment was to vacate the 1986 modification for all African-American school children in California and to leave the original Larry P. injunction intact. The district court also ordered supplemental proceedings in Larry P. to hear evidence regarding the "substantial equivalent" of E.M.R. classes and directed the Crawford plaintiffs to file a motion for subclass certification if they wanted to participate in the supplemental Larry P. proceedings.

The plaintiffs in the original Larry P. class (" Larry P. plaintiffs"), the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the California State Board of Education appeal the district court's summary judgment in favor of the Crawford plaintiffs. We affirm.


Because the district court dismissed the entire Crawford action, we have jurisdiction over the Department of Education's appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We also have jurisdiction to review the Larry P. plaintiffs' appeal because the dissolution of an injunction is an appealable interlocutory order under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(1).

We review de novo the district court's decision to set aside its 1986 judgment as void under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(4) because "the question of the validity of a judgment is a legal one." Retail Clerks Union Joint Pension Trust v. Freedom Food Center, 938 F.2d 136, 137 (9th Cir. 1991).*fn1 We also review de novo the district court's summary judgment. Kruso v. International Tel. & Tel. Corp., 872 F.2d 1416, 1421 (9th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 496 U.S. 937 (1990).


Class action suits are representative suits brought on behalf of groups of persons who are similarly situated but who may or may not be parties to the suit. See generally Fed. R. Civ. P. 23. Class members who are not parties to a class action suit nevertheless are bound by the judgment in the suit, and due process is satisfied, if the absent members' interests are adequately represented by the class members who are present. Hansberry v. Lee, 311 U.S. 32, 42-43, 85 L. Ed. 22, 61 S. Ct. 115 (1940); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4) (representative must "fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class"). Adequate representation "depends on the qualifications of counsel for the representatives, an absence of antagonism, a sharing of interests between representatives and absentees, and the unlikelihood that the suit is collusive." Brown v. Ticor Title Ins. Co., 982 F.2d 386, 390 (9th Cir. 1992) (quotation omitted), cert. denied, 128 L. Ed. 2d 33, 114 S. Ct. 1359 (1994).*fn2

Here, in vacating the 1986 modification, the district court held that the Crawford children were not bound by the 1986 judgment because the Larry P. class representative did not adequately represent the Crawford children's interest in having I.Q. tests for special education assessment other than E.M.R. placement or its substantial equivalent. The district court then vacated the 1986 modification based on three grounds: (1) the 1986 across-the-board ban on I.Q. tests for placement in special education classes expanded the scope of the 1979 injunction, which banned only the use of I.Q. tests for placement in dead-end E.M.R. classes or their substantial equivalent, (2) the modification was not supported by the factual findings underlying the 1979 Larry P. injunction, which addressed the discriminatory effect of I.Q. tests only in the context of placement in E.M.R. classes, and (3) no evidence was presented, and no findings were made, during the 1986 proceedings to support the broadening of the ban.

We affirm the district court's decision vacating the 1986 modification.

First, the Larry P. injunction banned the use of I.Q. tests without prior court approval for placement of African-American students in E.M.R. classes or their "substantial equivalent." The 1986 modification broadened the injunction and prohibited I.Q. testing of ...

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