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Monday, August 18, 2008

Attorney fees for due process violation

The focus of this blog is generally on currently decided cases and legislative developments. Although not just decided, this case is of great import with respect to district strategies that deny parents due process rights. In Engwiller v. Pine Plains, 110 F. Supp. 2d 236(SDNY 2000), the Parent prevailed on her claim that SED did not assure the provision of the hearing decision within 45 days. The SDNY awarded fees, stating that “Plaintiff has prevailed on her central claim by securing from this Court a declaration that her procedural rights under the IDEA were violated, and an order that the State provide her with a decision on [the child’s] IEP in short order. Accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to reimbursement from the State for attorneys' fees expended on SED administrative proceedings and this litigation.” Note that the award of fees was made without regard to the merits of the underlying proceeding; in fact, the attorney fee award was made prior to the issuance of the hearing officer’s decision.

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