Donnika Ivy, et. al. v. Morath

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
  • Date Filed: June 28, 2016
  • Case #: 15-486
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 781 F.3d 250
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the relationship between a public entity and a private vendor can trigger obligations to accommodate persons with disabilities when no prior express contractual relationship exists between the public entity and private vendor?

Petitioners are a group of hearing-disabled young people who were unable to complete a Texas driver-education program because the private company that handles the classroom portion of the program refused to provide the students with American Sign Language (“ASL”) interpretation. Respondent is a state agency responsible for managing the driver’s education program and licensing the classroom portion to the private entity. The District Court denied Respondent’s motion to dismiss but granted Respondent’s requested certification for interlocutory appeal. After reversing the district court’s order denying Respondent’s motion to dismiss, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit dismissed Petitioner’s claims with prejudice, on the grounds that it had failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Petitioner’s subsequent appeal for a rehearing en banc was denied by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Petitioners’ argue that, despite the absence of an express contractual agreement stipulating accommodation in all contexts, Respondent’s involvement with the driver-education program was pervasive enough to trigger federal law mandating persons with disabilities be accommodated under Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

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