Blunt v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., Nos. 11–4200

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtGREENBERG
Citation767 F.3d 247
PartiesAmber BLUNT, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated; Crystal Blunt; Michael Blunt, on their own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; S.H.; W.W.; Eric Allston, on his own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lydia Johnson, on her own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Linda Johnson; Carol Durrell, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter S.H.; Chantae Hall, and on behalf of all others similarly situated; June Coleman, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor son, R.C., and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lynda Muse, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter Q.G. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Christine Dudley, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter W.W. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; The Concerned Black Parents of Mainline Inc.; The Mainline Branch of The NAACP v. LOWER MERION SCHOOL DISTRICT; The Lower Merion School Board; Pennsylvania Department of Education Linda Johnson, Lydia Johnson, Carol Durell, Chantae Hall, S.H., Christine Dudley, W.W., Eric Allston, June Coleman, R.C. Lynda Muse, and Q.G., Appellants in No. 11–4200. Amber Blunt, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated; Crystal Blunt; Michael Blunt, on their own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; S.H.; W.W.; Eric Allston, on his own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lydia Johnson, on her own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Linda Johnson; Carol Durrell, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter S.H.; Chantae Hall, and on behalf of all others similarly situated; June Coleman, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor son, R.C., and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lynda Muse, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter Q.G. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Christine Dudley, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter W.W. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; The Concerned Black Parents of Mainline Inc; The Mainline Branch of the NAACP v. Lower Merion School District; The Lower Merion School Board; Pennsylvania Department of Education Amber Blunt, Crystal Blunt, Michael Blunt and Concerned Black Parents of Mainline Inc., Appellants in No. 11–4201. Amber Blunt, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated; Crystal Blunt; Michael Blunt, on their own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; S.H.; W.W.; Eric Allston, on his own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lydia Johnson, on her own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Linda Johnson; Carol Durrell, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter S.H.; Chantae Hall, and on behalf of all others similarly situated; June Coleman, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor son, R.C., and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lynda Muse, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter Q.G. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Christine Dudley, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter W.W. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; The Concerned Black Parents of Mainline Inc; The Mainline Branch of the NAACP v. Lower Merion School District; The Lower Merion School Board; Pennsylvania Department of Education Lower Merion School District, Appellant in Appellant in No. 11–4315.
Docket Number11–4201,11–4315.,Nos. 11–4200
Decision Date12 September 2014

767 F.3d 247

Amber BLUNT, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated; Crystal Blunt; Michael Blunt, on their own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; S.H.; W.W.; Eric Allston, on his own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lydia Johnson, on her own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Linda Johnson; Carol Durrell, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter S.H.; Chantae Hall, and on behalf of all others similarly situated; June Coleman, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor son, R.C., and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lynda Muse, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter Q.G. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Christine Dudley, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter W.W. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; The Concerned Black Parents of Mainline Inc.; The Mainline Branch of The NAACP
v.
LOWER MERION SCHOOL DISTRICT; The Lower Merion School Board; Pennsylvania Department of Education
Linda Johnson, Lydia Johnson, Carol Durell, Chantae Hall, S.H., Christine Dudley, W.W., Eric Allston, June Coleman, R.C. Lynda Muse, and Q.G., Appellants in No. 11–4200.

Amber Blunt, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated; Crystal Blunt; Michael Blunt, on their own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; S.H.; W.W.; Eric Allston, on his own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lydia Johnson, on her own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Linda Johnson; Carol Durrell, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter S.H.; Chantae Hall, and on behalf of all others similarly situated; June Coleman, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor son, R.C., and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lynda Muse, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter Q.G. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Christine Dudley, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter W.W. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; The Concerned Black Parents of Mainline Inc; The Mainline Branch of the NAACP
v.
Lower Merion School District; The Lower Merion School Board; Pennsylvania Department of Education
Amber Blunt, Crystal Blunt, Michael Blunt and Concerned Black Parents of Mainline Inc., Appellants in No. 11–4201.

Amber Blunt, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated; Crystal Blunt; Michael Blunt, on their own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; S.H.; W.W.; Eric Allston, on his own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lydia Johnson, on her own behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Linda Johnson; Carol Durrell, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter S.H.; Chantae Hall, and on behalf of all others similarly situated; June Coleman, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor son, R.C., and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Lynda Muse, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter Q.G. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; Christine Dudley, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor daughter W.W. and on behalf of all others similarly situated; The Concerned Black Parents of Mainline Inc; The Mainline Branch of the NAACP
v.
Lower Merion School District; The Lower Merion School Board; Pennsylvania Department of Education
Lower Merion School District, Appellant in Appellant in No. 11–4315.

Nos. 11–4200, 11–4201, 11–4315.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.

Argued June 11, 2013
Filed: Sept. 12, 2014


Affirmed; cross-appeal dismissed as moot.

Ambro, Circuit Judge, filed concurring opinion.

McKee, Chief Judge, filed opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.

[767 F.3d 253]

Patrick Castaneda, Matthew A. Goldberg, Carl W. Hittinger, (argued), John D. Huh, Lesli C. Esposito, Nathan P. Heller, DLA Piper, Philadelphia, PA, Attorneys for Appellants Linda Johnson, Lydia Johnson, Carol Durrell, Chantae Hall, S.H., Christine Dudley, W.W., Eric Allston, June Coleman, R.C., Lynda Muse, and Q.G.

[767 F.3d 254]

Jennifer R. Clarke, (argued), Benjamin D. Geffen, Sonja D. Kerr, Barbara E. Ransom, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, Judith A. Gran, Reisman, Carolla & Gran, Haddonfield, NJ, Attorneys for Appellants Amber Blunt, Crystal Blunt, Michael Blunt and the Concerned Black Parents of Mainline Inc.


Jenna B. Berman, Michael D. Kristofco, (argued), Wisler Pearlstine, Blue Bell, PA, Attorneys for Appellees Lower Merion School District and Lower Merion School Board.
Amy C. Foerster, Saul Ewing, Harrisburg, PA, M. Abbegael Giunta, Howard G. Hopkirk, (argued), Office of Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA, Attorneys for Appellee Pennsylvania Department of Education.
BEFORE: McKEE, Chief Judge, and AMBRO and GREENBERG, Circuit Judges.
OPINION OF THE COURT

GREENBERG, Circuit Judge.
TABLE OF CONTENTS

I.

INTRODUCTION

255


II.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

257


III.

STATEMENT OF JURISDICTION

264


IV.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

265


V.

ISSUES PRESENTED ON APPEAL

266


VI.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

267
A.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

267
B.

Redress and the Statute of Limitations under the IDEA

269
C.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

271
D.

42 U.S.C. § 1983

273
E.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Relevant Regulations of the Department of Education

274
F.

Americans with Disabilities Act

275
G.

Establishing a Prima Facie Case of Racial Discrimination Through Circumstantial Evidence

275
H.

Class Actions and Res Judicata (Claim Preclusion) Defenses

276
1.

Claim Preclusion

276
2.

Application of Res Judicata (Claim Preclusion) in Class Actions

277
I.

Standing

278


VII.

ANALYSIS

280
A.

The Effect of the Gaskin Settlement on the Claims Against the PDE

281
B.

Whether CBP Has Standing in this suit

282
C.

The Blunts and the 90–day Statute of Limitations under the IDEA, as Revised by the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act of 2004

291
D.

Whether Appellants Established a Prima Facie Case of Racial Discrimination

293
1.

Rejection of Certain Evidence by the District Court and Alleged Impermissible Reliance on Other Evidence Without a Daubert Hearing

294
a.

The MAP Presentation

295
b.

Daniel Reschley's Report

295
2.

Whether the District Court Properly Viewed the Evidence in the Light Most Favorable to the Plaintiffs as Non–Movants and Whether Plaintiffs Established a Prima Facie Case of Discrimination

296
3.

Statistical Evidence

299


VIII.

CONCLUSION

301

[767 F.3d 255]

I. INTRODUCTION

In what may be an oversimplification, we introduce our opinion on this appeal by setting forth that the central controversy is a dispute over whether African American students in the Lower Merion School District (“LMSD”) public schools in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, were deprived of appropriate educational services due to racial discrimination and segregation in violation of federal law. The plaintiffs unsuccessfully brought this action pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. ; the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, 12132; § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (the “RA”), 29 U.S.C. § 794(a); Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VI”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000d; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; and state law, claiming that African American students in the LMSD suffered from such discrimination.1 They now appeal from portions of the District Court's orders on federal issues entered at various times during the course of the litigation. We, however, are not concerned with the substance of the state law claims on this appeal as the District Court did not exercise jurisdiction over those claims.

This case encompasses a myriad of legal issues, including standing to bring suit, application of a statute of limitations, res judicata (claim preclusion), application of disability laws, appropriateness of education provided to students, anti-discrimination laws, and sections of the Code of Federal Regulations implementing the applicable laws. The case on appeal also includes a cross-appeal by the LMSD, but we will dismiss the cross-appeal without deciding it on the merits as it is moot. The District Court found that the plaintiffs did not present sufficient evidence to survive LMSD's motion for summary judgment on the discrimination charges and the Court dismissed plaintiffs' other claims for other reasons. Thus, the Court did not find that there had been any violations of federal law.

Plaintiffs, now appellants, appeal from the District Court's October 20, 2011

[767 F.3d 256]

Memorandum and Judgment Order granting a final summary judgment to defendant LMSD and against all the plaintiffs in the case remaining at the time that the Court granted summary judgment, the Court already having dismissed several of the parties and claims from the case by previous orders.2 Appellants also appeal from rulings in two intermediate orders that became final at the time of the entry of the October 20, 2011 Memorandum and Judgment Order, namely: the dismissal of all claims of plaintiffs, now appellants, Amber Blunt, a now former student at LMSD, and Crystal and Michael Blunt, her parents, in the District Court's memorandum and order of February 15, 2008, the “February 15, 2008 Order”; the dismissal of all plaintiffs' claims against the Pennsylvania Department of Education (“PDE”) in the District Court's order and memorandum of August 19, 2009, the “August 19, 2009 Order”; and the dismissal of plaintiff Concerned Black Parents of Mainline Inc. (“CBP”) as a party in the District Court's August 19, 2009 Order for lack of standing. Appellants' No. 11–4201 br. at 1.

Plaintiffs, with the exception of the CBP and the mainline branch of the NAACP (the “NAACP”), are present and past African American students of...

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1 practice notes
  • Xu Feng v. Univ. of Del., No. 20-2112
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • 29 Enero 2021
    ...way for all of its graduate students attending classes in person. Far from a "trail of direct evidence," Blunt v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 767 F.3d 247, 275 (3d Cir. 2014), then, the record reflects the University merely abiding by federal law and its own policies. In the absence of direct ......
1 cases
  • Xu Feng v. Univ. of Del., No. 20-2112
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • 29 Enero 2021
    ...way for all of its graduate students attending classes in person. Far from a "trail of direct evidence," Blunt v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 767 F.3d 247, 275 (3d Cir. 2014), then, the record reflects the University merely abiding by federal law and its own policies. In the absence of direct ......

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