Many of you have received emails or other communications from the Plaintiff in the recently filed case pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. As you are aware, the Plaintiff has sued virtually every school district in the United States asserting that the districts have violated the IDEA by closing schools in response to the COVID 19 pandemic. Yesterday, the Chief Judge for the Southern District of New York issued an Order to Show Cause that appears to make it likely that the court will soon dispose of claims against districts in states other than New York in the very near future. A copy of the Order to Show Cause can be found here.
The judge expressed “considerable doubt” that the court has jurisdiction over any school district in any state other than New York. She has ordered the Plaintiff to file a brief to show why the school districts from the other 49 states should not be dismissed due to the Southern District having no personal jurisdiction over them. The court raised this issue on its own accord since very few of the defendant districts have been properly served. The court also addressed the arguments already made by the Plaintiff in favor of personal jurisdiction and noted that the arguments made so far are facially deficient. This briefing is due by Friday September 11. Finally, the court ordered that no defendant other than the NYC Department of Education needs to file any response to the pending request for a preliminary injunction until the jurisdictional issues are resolved.
For each of the Texas school districts named as a defendant in the lawsuit, this means that nothing needs to be done to respond to the lawsuit until you are served pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the court rules on the jurisdictional issues. In all likelihood, the court will dismiss the action against all non-New York defendants in the new future.
Should you have any questions about the Order to Show Cause or any other matter, do not hesitate to contact us.