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  REPRESENTATIVE CASES
 
 

Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing has handled a number of class action lawsuits including Felix v Cayetano, which resulted in the Felix Consent Decree, affirming the rights of special education students in the Hawai'i public school system. The following are some examples of class action litigation the firm has been involved in.

 
 

Gary Kihara v. Chandler (ADA)

Attorneys for Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing and Eric Sietz, Attorney at Law, A Law Corporation filed a complaint in First Circuit Court, State of Hawai'i on behalf of Gary Kihara. The suit alleges that the Hawai'i State Dept. of Human Services incorrectly reduced the General Assistance benefits to Mr. Kihara and many others similarly situated who make up the Kihara Class. On April 29, 2002, the court approved a settlement for the class in the amount of $1.5 million.

 
 

Felix v. Cayetano (IDEA, Sect. 504)

In 1992, a case was brought on behalf of a Maui public school student Jennifer Felix, whose guardian was compelled to sue the Governor (originally John Waihee, then Ben Cayetano) and the state of Hawai'i in 1992 because federally-guaranteed mental health and educational services were not being provided as required by law. This suit became a class-action with originally approximately 2,000 identified Felix-class children. The number in the class has grown to about 13,000.

The case alleged that the State was derelict in carrying out two federal laws, the IDEA, which is the "Individuals with Disabilities Education Act," and section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act. Both of those required that the State have in place an appropriate system of care that would allow a child with mental disabilities to benefit from his or her free public education.

The State agreed to a number of conditions to settle the suit, the primary condition being that it have in place the system of care and have it in place by June 30, 2000. (This deadline has since been extended.) This agreement became known as the Felix Consent Decree.

On April 8, 2004, a stipulated step-down and termination plan was approved by the US. District Court. The plan requirements confirm the State's obligation to maintain a system of care and to abide by federal law. It requires the State to publish key indicator statistics for an additional five quarters. If plaintiffs' counsel do not file a motion to enforce during that time, the Consent Decree will be terminated.

 
 

Burns-Vidlak v. Chandler (ADA, Sect. 504)

On November 2, 1995, Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing filed a class action lawsuit against the State of Hawai'i for disability discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 20 U.S.C. Section 794, and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. Section 12132. The lawsuit, Burns-Vidlak v. Chandler et al, Civil No. 95-00892 was filed on behalf of all disabled persons who would have been eligible for the State of Hawai'i's HealthQuest ("Quest") medical insurance program except for the fact that they were categorically excluded because of their disability.

A $7 million settlement was reached in March 2003.
 
 

Garner v. State of Hawai`i, Board of Education

On November 8, 2002, Plaintiffs, on behalf of substitute teachers employed by the State of Hawai`i, Department of Education (“DOE”), filed a lawsuit against the DOE to recover back pay for the DOE’s violation of HRS § 302A-624(e). In 1996, to ensure adequate compensation for substitute teachers, the Hawai`i State Legislature passed HRS § 302A-624(e), which provided that substitute teacher pay “shall be based on the annual entry salary step rate established for a Class II teacher on the most current teachers’ salary schedule.” However, the DOE has failed to pay substitute teachers this statutorily mandated rate since the statute became effective on July 1, 1996.

On December 16, 2005, Circuit Court Judge Karen Ahn affirmed the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment against the Department of Education in the Garner and Kliternick class actions, which have been consolidated. The judge ruled that the substitute teachers represented in the class were entitled to receive back pay for the period of time covered in the lawsuit, November 2000 to June 2005. Approximately 9000 current and former substitute teachers are represented by the two class action lawsuits.