Friday, December 09, 2005

Fourth Circuit issues standing opinion

In Emery v. Roanoke City School Board, the Fourth Circuit held that parents in an IDEA case had no standing to sue for the expenses incurred when a school failed to provide the child with an appropriate education because the parents incurred no out of pocket expenses.

Typically, when a school district's educational choices for a disabled child violate the IDEA, the child's parents can unilaterally place him in an appropriate educational setting and seek reimbursement from the district. In this case, the parents paid no money for the educational expenses incurred during the 1992-1993 school year because the father's medical insurance provided by his employer paid the expenses. Hence there was no standing:

Plaintiff has failed to show how awarding him this amount would be anything other than a windfall. Plaintiff was in no way shortchanged by the use of proceeds from his father's medical insurance policy to pay Cumberland's bills. Plaintiff has not, for example, shown that he failed to obtain appropriate care as a result of any diminution in his father’s lifetime insurance benefits. And his current insurance coverage is distinct from the medical insurance used to pay Cumberland. Any payment to Cumberland under his father's policy has not lessened the benefits plaintiff enjoys under his current plan.

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