L et al v. JACKSON COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD et al
ORDER denying 134 Amended Motion for Partial Judgment of the Record and Partial Summary Judgment; denying without prejudice 133 Motion to Admit Additional Evidence; denying as moot 116 MOTION for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings; granting 112 Amended MOTION for Summary Judgment. All of Plaintiffs' claims are dismissed with prejudice. Signed by JUDGE RICHARD SMOAK on 10/30/2014. (jem)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
PANAMA CITY DIVISION
A.L., and P.L.B.,
CASE NO. 5:13-cv-85-RS-GRJ
JACKSON COUNTY SCHOOL
Before me are the Defendant’s Amended Motion for Summary Judgment
(Doc. 112), the Plaintiffs’ Motion to Supplement the Administrative Record (Doc.
133), the Defendant’s Response to the Plaintiffs’ Motion to Supplement the
Administrative Record (Doc. 142), the Plaintiffs’ Amended Motion for Partial
Judgment on the Administrative Record Plus and Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment (Doc. 134), and the Defendant’s Response to Plaintiffs’ Amended
Motion for Partial Judgment on the Administrative Record Plus and Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 141).
Plaintiffs did not file a timely response to Defendant’s motion for summary
judgment. (See Doc 136). To the extent that it can be so construed, I consider
Plaintiffs’ own motion for partial summary judgment to be a response.
AL, a public school student, and his mother, PLB, sued the Jackson County
School Board for failing to provide AL with a Fair and Adequate Public Education
(“FAPE”) pursuant to the Individual with Disabilities Education Act. An
administrative law judge found that AL received FAPE. AL and PLB then brought
suit in this court seeking review of the administrative decision, and also added
claims for violations of the Rehabilitation Act, Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”), and the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiffs and Defendants have filed crossmotions for summary judgment.
Upon review, I find that the decision of the administrative law judge should
be affirmed and that Plaintiffs’ remaining claims fail as a matter of law. Therefore,
Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment is DENIED, and Defendant’s motion for
summary judgment is GRANTED.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The basic issue before the court on a motion for summary judgment is
“whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a
jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2512 , 91 L.
Ed. 2d 202 (1986). The moving party has the burden of showing the absence of a
genuine issue as to any material fact, and in deciding whether the movant has met
this burden, the court must view the movant’s evidence and all factual inferences
arising from it in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Adickes v. S. H.
Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S. Ct. 1598, 1608, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142 (1970);
Fitzpatrick v. City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993). Thus, if
reasonable minds could differ on the inferences arising from undisputed facts, then
a court should deny summary judgment. Miranda v. B & B Cash Grocery Store,
Inc., 975 F.2d 1518, 1534 (11th Cir. 1992) (citing Mercantile Bank & Trust v.
Fidelity & Deposit Co., 750 F.2d 838, 841 (11th Cir. 1985)). However, a mere
‘scintilla’ of evidence supporting the nonmoving party's position will not suffice;
there must be enough of a showing that the jury could reasonably find for that
party. Walker v. Darby, 911 F.2d 1573, 1577 (11th Cir. 1990) (citing Anderson,
477 U.S. at 251).
The standard for summary judgment in unchanged when both parties have
filed for summary judgment. Cross-motions will not, in themselves, warrant a
grant of summary judgment unless one party is entitled to judgment on facts that
are not genuinely disputed. United States v. Oakley, 744 F.2d 1553, 1555-56 (11th
Cir. 1984). However, cross-motions may be probative of a lack of factual dispute
when they demonstrate a basic agreement concerning what legal theories and
material facts are dispositive. Id.
The standard for summary judgment is different to the extent that Plaintiffs
seek a review of an administrative law judge’s decision in a case brought under the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. In
such cases, summary judgment has been deemed appropriate even when facts are
in dispute, and is based on a preponderance of the evidence. Loren F. ex rel. Fisher
v. Atlanta Indep. Sch. Sys., 349 F.3d 1309, 1313 (11th Cir. 2003) (citations and
quotations omitted).The decision is better described as judgment on the record. Id.
(citations and quotations omitted).
The amount of deference given to the previous decision of the administrative
law judge is in the sound discretion of the district court, which must consider those
findings but is free to accept or reject them. Walker Cnty. Sch. Dist. v. Bennett ex
rel. Bennett, 203 F.3d 1293, 1297-98 (11th Cir. 2000). Administrative factfindings
are considered prima facie correct. Loren F., 349 F.3d at 1314 n. 5. Other courts
have persuasively noted that the thoroughness of the ALJ’s findings should be a
significant factor in determining deference. See, e.g., L.J. v. Broward Cnty. Sch.
Bd., 06-61282-CIV, 2008 WL 612881 at *2 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 5, 2008).
This case stems from an alleged repeated failure by Defendant Jackson
County School Board, to provide FAPE to Plaintiff “AL.” AL’s mother, Plaintiff
“PLB,” also seeks relief.
AL was a child enrolled in Jackson County public schools up until his
graduation from Marianna High School in 2014. (Doc. 134-1 at 2). AL was a
“child with a disability” and entitled by law to special educational
accommodations. (Doc. 112-1 at 3).
Plaintiffs argue that the School Board denied FAPE by (1) holding an
Individual Education Programs (“IEP”) meeting on November 17, 2010 without
PLB present, (2) failing to provide independent educational evaluation in 2009, (3)
failing to provide Extended Year Services in 2009, and (4) developing IEPs that
did not properly and sufficiently address his disability. (Doc. 134 at 2). Although
the Third Amended Complaint appears to allege additional failures to provide
FAPE and comply with the IDEA, these claims are deemed abandoned because of
Plaintiffs’ failure to argue them in their motion for summary judgment. See
Resolution Trust Corp. v. Dunmar Corp., 43 F.3d 587, 599 (11th Cir. 1995)
(“[G]rounds alleged in the complaint but not relied upon in summary judgment are
Plaintiffs’ account of the facts (Doc. 134-1) is admittedly incomplete, and
does not describe the facts of the most of the alleged failures to provide FAPE in
any sort of meaningful detail. It also contains a number of missing and insufficient
citations to the record. To the extent that Plaintiffs do describe the facts, they do
not appear to conflict with the findings of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
below. Therefore, I accept the ALJ’s description of the facts in this case, and I
incorporate those factual findings, (Doc. 23 at 38-195), by reference into this
I briefly summarize the events that are the basis for the claims at issue.
First, on November 17, 2010, the School Board conducted an IEP meeting
without PLB present. The Board had already rescheduled the meeting multiple
times to accommodate PLB, and the Board informed PLB multiple times by
multiple methods of the meeting. Nonetheless, PLB failed to appear, and refused to
conduct the meeting by telephone, so the Board conducted the meeting without
her. (Doc. 23 at 185-189).
Second, in April 2009, PLB requested an Independent Education Evaluation
at public expense. The Board had pre-existing policies for the cost and geographic
limits of these examinations, but PLB insisted on an evaluation at a Gainesville
facility. The Board found a local evaluator, but PLB never ended up consenting to
the evaluation. The ALJ found that PLB’s own actions “sabotaged” efforts to
provide an independent evaluation. (Id. at 85-94).
Third, AL was assigned to an alternative school during the summer of 2009.
PLB withdrew AL from the program after three days, however, complaining that it
was not an acceptable learning environment. The ALJ, however, found that the
facilities were adequate and that they were the least restrictive means available to
the School Board for accommodating AL’s disabilities (Id. at 94-96).
Fourth, the Board developed IEPs in January and April of 2009 and June of
2010 and November 2010. The ALJ found that these IEPs were sufficient to
provide AL with FAPE during that time period. (Id. at 96-119; 127-45; 189-94).
Additionally, Plaintiffs alleged retaliation in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act, and violations of the Fourth Amendment.
The retaliation claims stem from a number of complaints that Plaintiffs had
about AL’s education. The ALJ seems to have addressed each of these claims in
detail, and found there not to be any factual and/or legal basis for these claims.
(See generally id.).
The Fourth Amendment claims stem from routine searches conducted at the
alternative school in summer 2009. The ALJ found these to be routine daily
searches of all students. (Id. at 95).
The Administrative Law Judge’s Decision
PLB, unsatisfied with the School Board’s efforts to produce an IEP for her
son, filed a request for due process with the School Board on November 24, 2010.
(Doc. 23 at 38). The ensuing administrative proceedings lasted more than two
years. (Id. at 225). The hearing before the ALJ lasted approximately six weeks and
produced 47 volumes of testimony and evidence. (Id. at 42-43). The ALJ issued a
191-page final order on December 27, 2012 ruling against AL and PLB on all
claims and finding that the School Board provided FAPE to AL. (Id. at 225).
Specifically, the ALJ made the following rulings regarding PLB’s claims.
First, the ALJ found that the Board complied with all requirements in
scheduling and proceeding with the November 17, 2010, IEP meeting. (Id. at 20405).
Second, the ALJ found that the Board’s refusal to pay for PLB’s desired
independent educational evaluation did not deny FAPE. (Id. at 221-22).
Third, the ALJ found that that the school board sufficiently provided
extended year services in compliance with IDEA. (Id. at 220).
Fourth, the ALJ found that all IEPs developed for AL met all the
requirements of IDEA and provided FAPE. (Id. at 202).
On March 27, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint in this court to appeal the
ALJ’s decision. (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs also included claims alleging violations of the
Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Fourth
Amendment. (Doc. 23).
This litigation was delayed by numerous motions for extensions of time and
accommodations of disability from Plaintiffs’ counsel, Rosemary Palmer, who
claims to have a disability. This disability has caused Palmer to be unable to work
for two weeks at a time, (see Doc. 95); unpredictably prevented her from working
for short and long periods, (see 5:12-cv-299-RS, Doc. 79); impaired her memory
and caused her to be unable to recall case law, (see 5:12-cv-299-RS, Doc. 86);
caused her to lose three days of work, (see Doc. 11); made writing responses
impossible on many days, (see Doc. 43); caused her to be unable to serve her
clients by honoring court rules, (see 5:13-cv-178-RS, Doc. 43); caused her to be
unable to function and miss a deadline, (see 5:12-cv-299-RS, Doc. 92); caused her
to inadvertently miss deadlines, (see Doc. 53); prevented her from doing anything
but routine legal tasks because it affects her thinking and concentration, (see Doc.
64); impaired her thinking such that researching and analyzing is difficult to
impossible, (see 5:13-cv-178-RS, Doc. 68); and caused her to be unable to
prosecute her clients’ claims, (see 5:13-cv-178-RS, Doc. 79). In another case,
Palmer filed an affidavit from her doctor, stating that her illness causes “anxiety,
emotional numbing, forgetfulness, and nausea” as well “cognitive problems
(forgetting, comprehension problems, difficulty tracking thoughts and
conversations and responding appropriately).” (See 5:12-cv-299-RS, Doc. 92 at 6).
On August 8, 2014, after fully explaining my reasons for concern, I ordered
Palmer to appear to demonstrate that she is representing her clients in compliance
with the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct. (Doc. 103). At the hearing, I
determined that Palmer was not fit to represent clients on her own, and ruled that
the case may not proceed to trial without associating co-counsel who is able to
meet the demands of trying a case. (Doc. 111). Despite my efforts to help her,
Palmer was not able to associate co-counsel, so I indefinitely stayed proceedings in
the case. (See Doc. 129). I also granted Plaintiffs an additional two-week extension
to file dispositive motions and respond to Defendant’s motion for summary
judgment. (Id.). After those two weeks, plus a few additional days, on October 6,
2014, Palmer filed an incomplete motion for partial summary judgment (Doc.
134), a motion to admit additional evidence (Doc. 133), and a motion for extension
of time requesting an additional to respond to Defendant’s motion (Doc. 135). I
denied her motion for additional time because of the substantial delays that she has
already caused in this case. (Doc. 136).
The Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and Plaintiffs’ motions for
partial summary judgment and admission of additional evidence are now before
me. Although Plaintiffs never filed a response to Defendant’s motion, as I already
stated, I will construe their motion to be a response.
Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment
I find “Plaintiffs’ Amended Motion for Partial Judgment on the
Administrative Record Plus, and Motion for Summary Judgment (Partially
Dispositive)” to be incomplete, as the motion itself admits. (Doc. 134 at 1 fn. 2).
Furthermore, the motion appears generally unintelligible, and does not rise to the
level of competence expected of an attorney admitted to practice law before this
court. The “Amended Statement of Undisputed Material Facts” (Doc. 134-1)
contains numerous incomplete citations to the record.
Although counsel for Plaintiffs had asked for additional time to complete the
motion due to her disabilities, I denied that request, finding that I had already made
sufficient accommodations for her disabilities and that the interest of judicial
efficiency outweighed her request for additional time. (See Docs. 129, 136).
Therefore, because Plaintiffs’ motion wholly fails to show that they should
be granted judgment as a matter of law on any claim, their motion is denied.
Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment
The School Board moves for summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs’ claims.
First, it argues that the school board provided a Free Appropriate Public Education
(“FAPE”) to A.L., and her IDEA claims should be dismissed. Second, it argues
that Plaintiffs have not produced sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find in
their favor on their Rehabilitation Act and ADA claims. Third, it argues that
Plaintiffs have not produced sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find in
their favor on their Fourth Amendment claims.
I agree with the School Board’s arguments, and I grant summary judgment
for the Board on all counts.
1. The IDEA claims
After review of the record, the parties’ arguments, and the findings of the
administrative law judge, I find by a preponderance of the evidence that AL was
provided FAPE. I therefore affirm the findings of the administrative decision
A. The factual findings of the ALJ are sound and deserve deference
As I previously stated, district courts have discretion to accord great
deference to the ALJ’s findings, especially where the ALJ’s findings were
thorough. See Walker Cnty. Sch. Dist, 203 F.3d at 1298; Loren F., 349 F.3d at
1314 n. 5; L.J., 2008 WL 612881 at *2.
Here, I afford great deference to the factual findings of the ALJ who
previously heard the proceedings. The ALJ’s 191-page opinion in this case was
exceptionally thorough. Furthermore, the ALJ had full exposure to the six weeks of
testimony in this case which produced nearly 14,000 pages of record; her expertise
in the matter cannot be overstated.
B. The ALJ’s conclusion that AL received FAPE is sound and deserves
I also afford great deference the ALJ’s legal conclusions. As one court
stated, the IDEA “is not an invitation to the district court to substitute its own
judgment on sound educational policy for those made at the state administrative
level.” Dekalb Cnty. Sch. Dist. v. M.T.V. ex rel. C.E.V., 413 F. Supp. 2d 1322,
1325 (N.D. Ga. 2005).
Upon review of the relevant law, and review of the ALJ’s applications of the
law to the facts, I find that the ALJ correctly concluded that the School Board had
provided FAPE and had complied with all the substantive requirements of the
Under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act, disabled students are
guaranteed a Free and Appropriate Public Education. Loren F., 349 F.3d at 1311.
FAPE must be provided at public expense, meet state educational standards,
include appropriate education, and be provided in conformity with an Individual
Education Plan. 20 U.S.C. § 1401(8). This IEP must meet statutory requirements
and be formulated at a meeting with the student’s parents. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d). An
IEP must be amended, but perfection is not required. Loren F., 349 F.3d at 1312.
In assessing whether FAPE was provided, courts should ask (1) whether the
school complied with IDEA procedures, and (2) whether the IEP is reasonably
calculated to enable the student to receive educational benefits. Id.
In each of the complaints that Plaintiffs’ now bring, the ALJ correctly
applied the law and concluded that the Board provided FAPE in all aspects.
First, the ALJ correctly concluded that the Board did not violate IDEA
requirements by carrying out the November 17, 2010, IEP meeting without PLB
present. (Doc. 23 at 203-05). Rather, the School Board met all IDEA requirements;
it notified PLB multiple times and rescheduled the meeting to accommodate her. It
offered PLB the option to participate by telephone, but she declined. It was PLB’s
own actions that ultimately caused the meeting to go forward without her present.
See 34 C.F.R. § 300.322.
Second, the ALJ correctly concluded that the Board’s refusal to pay for
PLB’s desired independent educational evaluation did not deny FAPE or violate
IDEA requirements. (Doc 23 at 221-22). The Board complied with the statutory
requirements by making available at public expense an independent educational
evaluation by an authorized provider within pre-established geographic and price
guidelines. They were not required to pay for the evaluation in Gainesville that
Third, the ALJ correctly concluded that that the school board sufficiently
provided extended year services in compliance with IDEA. (Id. at 220). The Board
met the requirements of 34 C.F.R. § 300.106 by assigning AL to an alternative
school in the summer of 2009; PLB’s decision to remove him from that school and
her demands for alternative accommodations do not defeat FAPE.
Fourth, the ALJ correctly concluded that all IEPs developed for AL met all
the requirements of IDEA and provided FAPE. (Id. at 202). Here I heavily defer to
the conclusions of the ALJ, who is steeped with experience in the highly technical
specialty of developing and reviewing IEPs for disabled students. It appears, upon
de novo review of the ALJ’s entire decision, that the School Board (1) complied
with all IDEA procedures and (2) that AL’s IEP was reasonably calculated to
enable him to receive educational benefits. The ALJ correctly cited the relevant
law and determined that the IEPs were detailed enough to comply with the
technical requirements of 20 U.S.C. § 1414 and 34 CFR § 300.1 et seq. (Doc. 23 at
202). The ALJ likewise correctly cited the law and concluded that AL was
progressing in his education. (Id. at 213).
C. Plaintiffs have wholly failed to demonstrate any reason why the ALJ’s
findings should not be accepted
Most important for my decision, Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate any
reason why the ALJ’s findings are erroneous. Plaintiffs’ nearly unintelligible
“Amended Motion for Partial Judgment on the Administrative Record Plus, and
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Partially Dispositive),” which is
admittedly incomplete and largely bereft of citations to the record, fails to
adequately identify any specific error in the ALJ’s opinion. And yet Plaintiffs bear
the burden of persuasion. See E.W. v. Sch. Bd. of Miami-Dade Cnty. Florida, 307
F. Supp. 2d 1363, 1369 (S.D. Fla. 2004) (“[T]he party seeking reversal of the
ALJ's determination ... [has] the burden of proving that the [ ] IEP was
inappropriate.”) (citations and quotations omitted). As previously mentioned,
because Plaintiffs failed to file a response to Defendant’s motion for summary
judgment, I will construe their motion for partial summary judgment to be a
First, in arguing that PLB’s exclusion from the November 17, 2014, IEP
meeting denied FAPE, (Doc. 134 at 5), Plaintiffs fail to give any explanation for
PLB’s repeated and unreasonable history of failure to attend the IEP meeting and
constant requests for rescheduling the IEP meeting, or her failure to participate by
telephone, which is an acceptable method of participation under 34 C.F.R.
§ 300.322. I find this case to be distinguishable from the non-binding case on
which Plaintiffs rely, Doug C. v. Hawaii Dep't of Educ., 720 F.3d 1038 (9th Cir.
2013), because Jackson County School Board offered telephone participation as
option. In Doug C., the court specifically noted that the school should have offered
teleconferencing to the parent if they could not participate. Id. at 1044. To the
extent that the Doug C. court’s reasoning could apply here, I find it to be
unconvincing because, as the ALJ meticulously detailed, the Jackson County
School Board complied with all statutory and regulatory requirements in setting the
meeting, and it was PLB’s own actions which forced the Board to proceed without
her. The Board was, by definition, under no obligation to go beyond the statutory
procedural requirements in order to provide FAPE.
Second, in arguing that AL was denied an independent educational
evaluation, (Doc. 134 at 9), Plaintiffs fail to account for the evidence that shows
that the Board made reasonable efforts to provide the evaluation with a qualified
evaluator. They similarly fail to explain why they should be entitled to an evaluator
outside the geographic and monetary limits—mandated by 34 C.F.R.
§ 300.502(e)— that were pre-established by the Board. Rather, the evidence shows
that the Board made every effort to obtain an evaluation in compliance with IDEA
requirements, and PLB’s own actions caused the evaluation to ultimately never
Third, the argument that the alternative school placement in summer 2009
was insufficient, (Doc. 134 at 14), lacks any substance at all, and provides no
reasons why the program was outside statutory compliance other than the fact that
Plaintiffs were apparently uncomfortable with the routine searches that occurred
there. The evidence instead demonstrates that the extended year services that the
School Board offered were statutorily adequate and provided FAPE.
Fourth, the argument that the IEPs were outside of statutory compliance,
(Doc. 134 at 16, 19) is entirely without merit. First, the argument that AL’s falling
academic progress indicates an invalid IEP fails. Contrary to Plaintiffs’ assertions
that falling academic progress is indicative of an invalid IEP, IEPs must only be
legally sufficient at the time they are developed. See Draper v. Atlanta Indep. Sch.
Sys., 480 F. Supp. 2d 1331, 1345 (N.D. Ga. 2007) (“[T]he Court must determine
the measure and adequacy of an IEP at the time it was offered to the student and
not at some later date.”). Plaintiffs cite no authority to the contrary. Plaintiffs also
fail to point to any actual, specific deficiencies in the November 2010 IEP. Rather,
the entire 191-page opinion of the ALJ demonstrates that the IEPs were sufficient
and that AL received FAPE.
Because Plaintiffs have wholly failed to carry their burden to show that AL
did not receive FAPE, and they have failed to adequately point to any errors in the
well-reasoned opinion of the ALJ, their IDEA claims must fail as a matter of law.
2. The Rehabilitation and ADA Claims
Although Plaintiffs have not briefed the issue at all or defended their claims,
they request relief under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., and the
Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. Based on
their allegations in the complaint, the claims appear to allege retaliatory conduct
that is substantially identical to the conduct complained of in the IDEA claims.
Plaintiffs’ claims fail as a matter of law for three reasons. First, they have
waived them by failing to brief them or respond to Defendant’s motion for
summary judgment. Second, Plaintiffs have never brought to this court’s attention
any actual evidence supporting these claims. Third, to the extent that the record as
analyzed by the ALJ contains evidence supporting these claims, the claims fail for
the reasons the ALJ stated—there was no factual basis for any alleged misconduct
by the school board, and all claims of supposedly retaliatory conduct were either
determined to be entirely unfounded or not in fact retaliatory.
3. The Fourth Amendment Claims
Plaintiffs also allege that the searches that AL was subjected to at the
alternative school during summer 2009 constituted unreasonable search and seizure
in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. The ALJ found that “These searches
were routine and were administered to every person entering the Alternative
School, including other students. There was no competent or credible evidence that
the searches violated IDEA or compromised the provision of FAPE.” (Doc. 23 at
95). Plaintiffs have not produced any additional evidence relating to the searches
beyond the description in the ALJ’s factfindings.
Based on the available evidence, no reasonable jury could conclude that
these searches violated the Fourth Amendment. There is no evidence that the
searches were not “reasonable grounds for suspecting that the search will turn up
evidence,” New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 342, 105 S. Ct. 733, 743, 83 L. Ed.
2d 720 (1985), or that the searches were not “reasonably related to the objectives
of the search and not excessively intrusive in light of the age and sex of the student
and the nature of the infraction.” Id. Plaintiffs have offered no evidence
whatsoever beyond the vague descriptions in the administrative record, which did
not even consider Fourth Amendment issues. This scant evidence is insufficient for
the claims to survive a motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiffs Motion to Admit Additional Evidence
Because I am able to fully decide this case in Defendant’s favor on the
record below, I find it unnecessary to decide whether Plaintiffs should be entitled
to admit any additional evidence.
Furthermore, even if I were to admit the additional evidence, the evidence
does not appear that it would be impact my decision. The additional test scores, as
I have already noted, would not show that AL’s IEPs were procedurally deficient
at the time they were created. Furthermore, purported expert report of Mary L.
Auvil does not appear sufficient to contradict the clear weight of the evidence, as
described in the well-reasoned 191-page opinion of the ALJ, that AL received
After review of all the materials and arguments before me, I find that
Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate any entitlement to relief on any of their
claims, and have failed to explain why the decision of the administrative law judge
is in any way erroneous. Defendant is therefore entitled to judgment as a matter of
law on all counts.
I further note that Plaintiffs’ counsel, Rosemary Palmer, was extremely
ineffective in her representation of her clients. Although Palmer claims to have a
disability, as I have already explained, I have already given her more than adequate
accommodations for her disabilities through both physical accommodations and
generous extensions of time. The only accommodation that will apparently satisfy
her is an indefinite extension of time for all filings, but no lawyer would ever be
entitled to such a request. Her failure to file motions and responses by an
unambiguous deadline despite very generous extensions of time appears indicative
of a failure to comply with Fl. St. Bar. R. 4-1.1 (“A lawyer shall provide competent
representation to a client.”), and Fl. St. Bar. R. 4-1.16 (“A lawyer . . . shall
withdraw from the representation of a client if . . . the lawyer’s physical or mental
condition materially impairs the lawyer’s ability to represent the client.”).
I also sternly warn Attorney Palmer that if she ever again appears before me
without associating co-counsel who are fully able to competently represent her
clients, I will not tolerate her failure to comply with the Florida Rules of
Professional Conduct and may recommend discipline against her pursuant to N.D.
Fla. Loc. R. 11.1(E)(5), including prohibition from practice before this court.
Therefore, Plaintiffs’ Amended Motion for Partial Judgment on the
Administrative Record Plus and Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 134)
is DENIED. Plaintiffs’ Motion to Supplement the Administrative Record (Doc.
133) is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Plaintiffs’ Motion for Partial
Judgment on the Administrative Record Plus (Doc. 116) is DENIED AS MOOT.
The relief requested in the Defendant’s Amended Motion for Summary Judgment
(Doc. 112) is GRANTED. All of Plaintiffs’ claims are DISMISSED WITH
The clerk is directed to close the file for administrative purposes pending
resolution of any post-judgment motions. Upon the expiration of 60 days without
activity, the clerk is directed to close the case in its entirety for all purposes.
ORDERED on October 30, 2014.
/s/ Richard Smoak
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?