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V.W. v. Conway - 236 F. Supp. 3d 554 (N.D.N.Y. 2017)


The Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(2) common question must lend itself to classwide resolution such that determination of its truth or falsity will resolve an issue that is central to the validity of each one of the claims in one stroke. Importantly, factual differences in the claims of the class do not preclude a finding of commonality. Rather, what matters is the capacity of a classwide proceeding to generate common answers apt to drive the resolution of the litigation.


The plaintiffs sought relief on behalf of themselves and a putative class of fellow 16- and 17-year-old juveniles detained at the Onondaga County Justice Center by defendants Onondaga County Sheriff Eugene Conway, Chief Custody Deputy Esteban Gonzalez, and Assistant Chief Custody Deputy Kevin Brisson  (collectively the "Onondaga County defendants"), each of whom was sued in their respective official capacities. The juvenile inmates challenged the imposition of solitary confinement; they alleged that the juveniles in solitary confinement were denied the minimum educational instruction guaranteed by state law and the special education services guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C.S. § 1400 et seq.



Were the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. 23 met in the putative class suit by juvenile inmates alleging violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA)?




In granting the juveniles' motions, the court held that the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. 23 were met, particularly because the class members exceeded 40, thus meeting the numerosity requirement. The commonality requirement was met because the suit raised common questions of whether the juveniles were deprived of education, special services, and related procedural protections to which they were entitled. A preliminary injunction was warranted particularly because the juveniles established a likelihood that they would succeed on their claims and the violation of their constitutional rights showed irreparable harm.

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