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1-5 v. Chandler

filed: May 17, 1996.

JOHN DOES 1-5, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED; JANE DOE, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
SUSAN M. CHANDLER, PH.D., DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, A DULY ORGANIZED AND RECOGNIZED AGENCY OF THE STATE OF HAWAII; PATRICIA MURAKAMI, ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, FAMILY & ADULT SERVICES DIVISION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. D.C. No. CV 95-498-HG. Helen Gillmor, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: James R. Browning and John T. Noonan, Jr., Circuit Judges, and Robert R. Merhige, Senior District Judge.*fn* Opinion by Judge Merhige.

Author: Merhige

MERHIGE, Sr. District Judge:

This case arises out of a class action lawsuit brought by Appellants, John Does 1-5 and Jane Doe, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated. Appellees are Susan M. Chandler, Director of the Hawaii Department of Human Services, and Patricia Murakami, Acting Administrator, Family and Adult Services Division.

HRS § 346-71 is the principal statutory mandate for Hawaii's General Assistance ("GA") Program. HRS § 346-71 was amended in 1995 by Act 166 of the Hawaii legislature. Appellants filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii on June 21, 1995, alleging that Act 166 violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and its implementing regulations, 28 CFR § 35.130, as well as the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the United States Constitution.

Appellants appeal the district court's denial of their motion for a preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of Act 166.

I.

Prior to 1995, HRS § 346-71, Hawaii's applicable GA statute, provided GA benefits to those persons with dependent children, able-bodied persons at least 55 years of age, and disabled persons who were unable to provide sufficient support for themselves and who were not otherwise provided for under Hawaii law or eligible for federal assistance. In 1995, the Hawaii legislature passed Act 166 amending HRS § 346-71. Act 166 has the effect of eliminating GA as an entitlement and eliminating benefits for certain persons who had previously received them.

Act 166 eliminated benefits to those able-bodied persons who had been entitled to GA because they were at least 55 years old. Act 166 also limited the receipt of benefits to those who had been entitled to GA by reason of their disability to no more than one year.*fn1 Thus, after Act 166 the Hawaii GA program provides durationally unlimited benefits to persons with dependent children who are unable to provide sufficient support for themselves and who are not otherwise provided for under Hawaii law or eligible for federal assistance and benefits of up to a duration of one year to disabled persons unable to provide sufficient support for themselves and who are not otherwise provided for under Hawaii law or eligible for federal assistance.

The amendments to HRS § 346-71 contained in Act 166 became effective on July 1, 1995. Thus, if Act 166 is not found to violate federal law, persons who receive GA by reason of their disabilities will begin to be terminated from the program when their eligibility elapses a year from that date.

Appellants filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii on June 21, 1995, alleging that Act 166 violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and its implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. § 35.130, as well as the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the United States Constitution. The Appellees have stipulated and the district court ordered that the Appellants-plaintiff class consists of "all persons who are, have been, or will be identified as "disabled" under Chapter 346 and its implementing regulations and who will be adversely affected by the implementation of Act 166." Shortly after filing suit, Appellants brought a motion for a preliminary injunction in the district court, seeking to enjoin the enforcement of HRS § 346-71, as amended. The district court denied this motion on November 13, 1995, determining that Appellants had failed to raise a "serious question" as to the validity of HRS 346-71, as amended.

II.

A district court's order regarding preliminary injunctive relief is subject to limited review. The grant or denial of a preliminary injunction will be reversed only where the district court abused its discretion or based its decision on an erroneous legal standard or on clearly erroneous findings of fact. Miller v. California Pacific Medical Center, 19 F.3d 449, 455 (9th Cir. 1994)(en banc).

A trial court's decision to deny injunctive relief should be upheld unless the court incorrectly applied the law, relied on clearly erroneous factual findings, or otherwise abused its discretion. Contract Services Network, Inc. v. Aubry, 62 F.3d 294, 297 (9th Cir. 1995). Although district courts have wide discretion in issuing preliminary injunctions, "where the district court is alleged to have relied on erroneous legal premises, ...


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