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C.W. v. Capistrano Unified School District

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

March 2, 2015

C. W., a minor, by her Mother, K.S., Guardian Ad Litem; K.S., Guardian Ad Litem, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
CAPISTRANO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant-Appellee

Argued and Submitted, Pasadena, California: August 5, 2014.

Page 957

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No. 8:11-cv-01157-DOC-RNB. David O. Carter, District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY[*]

Attorney's Fees

The panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's award of attorney's fees and costs to Capistrano Unified School District as the prevailing defendant in an action alleging violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

The panel agreed with the district court that the ADA and § 1983 claims were frivolous, and affirmed the district court to the extent it awarded attorney's fees and costs for representation relating to those claims. The panel concluded that the claims lacked any legal foundation, and the result was obvious.

The panel disagreed with the district court that the IDEA and Rehabilitation Act claims were frivolous and/or brought for an improper purpose, and it reversed the district court to the extent it awarded attorney's fees and costs related to the litigation of those claims under 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B).

The panel referred the case to the Appellate Commissioner for a determination of which fees were attributable solely to litigating the frivolous ADA and § 1983 claims.

Judge Reinhardt concurred in part and dissented in part. He agreed with the majority that the claims under the IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act were not frivolous and that none of the claims was brought for an improper purpose. Disagreeing with the majority, Judge Reinhardt wrote that the ADA and § 1983 claims, which were based on the same facts as the Rehabilitation Act claim, were not frivolous.

Gregory S. Fisher (argued), Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Anchorage, Alaska; Jennifer Guze Campbell and Vanessa Jarvis, Special Education Law Firm, APC, Lakewood, California, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Amy R. Levine (argued), Ernest Bell, and Matthew J. Tamel, Dannis Woliver Kelley, San Francisco, California, for Defendant-Appellee.

William S. Koski and Carly J. Munson, Youth & Education Law Project, Mills Legal Clinic, Stanford Law School, Stanford, California; Paula D. Pearlman, Michelle Uzeta, and Anna Rivera, Disability Rights Legal Center, Los Angeles, California, for Amici Curiae Disability Rights Legal Center, Disability Rights California, Public Counsel Law Center, Children's Rights Clinic at Southwestern Law School, Pepperdine University School of Law Special Education Advocacy Clinic, and University of San Diego Legal Clinics.

Jonathan J. Mott and Cynthia A. Yount, Parker & Covert LLP, Tustin, California, for Amicus Curiae California School Boards Association Education Legal Alliance.

Before: Stephen Reinhardt, Kim McLane Wardlaw, and Consuelo M. Callahan, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Wardlaw; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Judge Reinhardt. REINHARDT, Circuit Judge, ...


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