Justia Public Benefits Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of a parent's motion for summary judgment against the school district for alleged procedural and substantive violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The court held that the district court did not err in finding that the parent failed to meet her burden of showing that the school district violated the procedural requirements of the IDEA. In this case, none of the incidents the parent claimed amounted to a procedural violation and the court was not convinced that the student was denied a free and appropriate public education. The court also held that there were no substantive IDEA violations. The court was satisfied that the school district took the necessary steps to ensure that the student was being properly serviced under this individualized education plan, despite his absences. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of the school district's motion for summary judgment. View "A. A. v. Northside Independent School District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the school district violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by failing to develop and implement an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that was reasonably calculated to provide him with educational benefits appropriate to his circumstances. Assuming arguendo that plaintiff was able to challenge all of the IEPs that the school district designed and implemented, the Fifth Circuit ultimately held that there was no IDEA violation. The court held that the district court properly considered the four factor test articulated in Cypress-Fairbanks lndep. Sch. Dist. v. Michael ex rel. Barry F., 118 F.3d 245, 247 (5th Cir. 1997), and concluded that all factors weighed in favor of the school district. In this case, the school district expended a great amount of time and resources developing and implementing an IEP that was based on multiple in-depth evaluations of plaintiff's unique needs and abilities with significant input from plaintiff's parents and expert consultants, and plaintiff achieved at least some academic and nonacademic benefits as a result of his plan. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment against plaintiff on his IDEA claim and dismissal of his remaining claims. View "R. S. v. Highland Park Independent School District" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit reversed the denial of social security disability benefits to plaintiff. The court held that the denial of benefits was not supported by substantial evidence, because the ALJ failed to apply the SSA's rules regarding borderline-age situations and did not provide any explanation for putting her in a lower age category. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Schofield v. Saul" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a civilly committed sexually violent predator, had to pay for GPS monitoring or be prosecuted under a now-repealed Texas law. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the pay-or-be-prosecuted penalty violated the Social Security Act's anti-attachment provision, 42 U.S.C. 407(a), which protects benefits from execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to officials based on qualified immunity, holding that plaintiff's Social Security benefits were not executed on, levied, attached, or garnished. Furthermore, criminalizing a sexually violent predator's failure to pay for GPS monitoring is not "other legal process" under section 407(a). Therefore, the district court correctly interpreted the anti-attachment provision and the officials were entitled to qualified immunity. View "Reed v. Taylor" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to affirm the revocation of two physicians' Medicare privileges. The court held that the physicians billed for services using their own Medicare National Provider Identifiers without providing direct supervision while traveling outside of the country; the ALJ's summary judgment dismissal of the physicians' claims was supported by substantial evidence; the physicians' constitutional claims were rejected; the court agreed with its sister circuits that have determined that participation in the federal Medicare reimbursement program is not a property interest; and the court deferred to CMS's decision to bar the physicians from re-enrolling in the Medicare program for three years. View "Shah v. Azar" on Justia Law

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Parents of C.J. filed suit under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), alleging that the school district failed to provide him with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the school district and rejected parents' claim that the school district's refusal to provide Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services denied C.J. a FAPE where parents could not meaningfully claim that C.J.'s individualized education plan (IEP) was predetermined; the district court did not clearly err by finding that sufficient notice of C.J.'s eligibility for summer school classes was provided; in light of the facts, the school district did not deny C.J. a FAPE by failing to protect him from bullying; and C.J.'s transition plan did not deny him a FAPE. View "Renee J. v. Houston Independent School District" on Justia Law

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After the Settlement Agreement Appeal Panel affirmed the Claim Administrator's classification of the Arcadia Facility as a "Failed Business," Graphic Packaging sought and was denied discretionary review from the district court. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of discretionary review, holding that the Appeals Panel did not misapply the Settlement Agreement. Even if it did, Graphic Packaging merely disputed the correctness of a discretionary administrative decision in the facts of a single claimant's case. The court rejected Graphic Packaging's remaining claim that the decision merits review because it contradicts a previous Appeals Panel decision. View "Claimant ID 100262194 v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc." on Justia Law

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After the Department of Education issued a proposed determination that Texas was ineligible for $33.3 million of future grants because of the shortfall in both aggregate and per capita state funding, the state argued that it had complied with the "maintenance of state financial support" (MFS) requirement because funding under a weighted-student model had remained constant. The Fifth Circuit denied Texas' petition for review and held that the weighted-student model contravenes the plain meaning of the MFS clause. The court explained that, under the weighted-student model, Texas may reduce the amount of funding for special education if it determines that the needs of children with disabilities have changed. In this case, Texas violated the plain requirements of the MFS clause by doing so and was therefore ineligible for the corresponding amount of future Individuals and Disabilities Education Act Part B grants. Finally, the MFS clause did not exceed Congress's spending power by failing to provide sufficiently clear notice of its requirements. View "Texas Education Agency v. United States Department of Education" on Justia Law

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A social security disability claimant does not have an absolute right to question medical consultants. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the denial of disability benefits to plaintiff, holding that disability claimants' interest in accurate disability decisions was adequately protected by the qualified right to question medical consultants they already enjoyed. The type of case-by-case assessment of need was common for procedural issues in disability cases. In this case, the ALJ did not abuse his discretion by refusing to issue the subpoena or interrogatories at issue. Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of benefits. View "Barrett v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of attorneys' fees for plaintiff under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The court held that the hearing officer's decision did not make plaintiff a prevailing party under the IDEA and thus she was not entitled to attorneys' fees. In this case, the officer's decision effected no change to plaintiff's educational plan, which the officer agreed was entirely appropriate despite lacking a prior autism diagnosis. Furthermore, the IDEA focuses, not on a student's diagnostic label, but on whether the student received appropriate education services, which the officer found plaintiff had received from the school district. View "Lauren C. v. Lewisville Independent School District" on Justia Law