In 2008, Alan L. Yatvin filed an administrative complaint under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on behalf of Emily R., a second grader in the Ridley School District, in suburban Philadelphia. On March 30, 2017, after two previous appearances on this case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Yatvin was again before the Court for oral argument.
The Court had previously found that Ridley had shirked its responsibility under the IDEA to fund Emily’s “stay-put” placement at the Benchmark School. This time Yatvin was arguing that Emily’s parents were entitled to recover their attorney’s fees as “prevailing” parties under the IDEA.
On August 22, 2017, a three judge panel unanimously ruled in favor of Emily’s parents, concluding that they were, in fact, prevailing parties entitled to attorney’s fees because they had required Ridley to fund Emily’s educational placement. The Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the District Court to determine the amount of those fees.
In a nod to Yatvin’s work, the Court of Appeals wrote in the final footnote:
“[W]e note that the litigation here was conducted by highly qualified and experienced counsel and was itself extensive and protracted…” M.R. v. Ridley School District, footnote 9.
Read more about the history of this case in our prior post: Yatvin defeats certiorari in U.S. Supreme Court, preserves special education victory.