Protecting the Rights of People With Disabilities

Our lawyers secured a significant victory in March 2023, for children with disabilities when the US Supreme Court ruled for our client Miguel Luna Perez, in Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools. The Court’s unanimous ruling vindicates the rights of students under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), allowing children with disabilities who have been denied a public school education to pursue all remedies available to them under federal anti-discrimination law.

Mr. Perez, who is deaf, attended Sturgis Public Schools in Michigan for 12 years. But Sturgis failed to teach Mr. Perez sign language and provide other accommodations, violating both the IDEA and ADA. Sturgis isolated Mr. Perez from his classmates while telling his parents (who do not speak English) that he was earning good grades and progressing towards graduation. This permanently stunted Mr. Perez’s ability to communicate and dramatically limited his job prospects.

Students with disabilities have the right to a free public education tailored to their individual needs under the IDEA and other federal laws. Mr. Perez and Sturgis settled an administrative claim filed under the IDEA, granting Mr. Perez compensatory educational relief. But when Mr. Perez filed a separate ADA claim for money damages in federal court, the district court and the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit refused to let him proceed, holding that Mr. Perez’s IDEA settlement forfeited his right to bring the ADA claim by failing to exhaust his IDEA remedies.

Mr. Perez appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court. All nine justices agreed with Latham’s arguments in full, holding that a plaintiff need not exhaust the IDEA’s administrative processes when seeking remedies under other statutes that the IDEA does not authorize — in this case, money damages under the ADA. Mr. Perez was then able to settle his claims for damages under the ADA.

"The unanimous Supreme Court decision in Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools is not only a win for Miguel, but for other children with disabilities who were similarly denied a free and appropriate public education and wish to pursue full relief when they suffer discrimination."

Roman Martinez, Partner, Washington, D.C.
In addition to our advocacy on behalf of Mr. Perez, our firm continues to advise nonprofits that support individuals with disabilities, such as Federación Española de Entidades de Autismo – FESPAU. This nonprofit coordinates 22 associations of parents of people affected by autism in all Spanish regions, and our lawyers counseled on structuring and governance issues. In the UK, we participate in University House Legal Advice Centre’s Advocacy Project, which advocates for individuals with complex health and social needs. We have also advised Dementia Support, which works with those living with dementia and their families, on structuring options for the operation of Dementia Hubs, through which the charity engages with the community.

Lawyers from our Houston office worked with Special Olympics International (SOI) as SOI entered into an alliance agreement with Topgolf. Under this agreement, the sport of topgolf will become an officially sanctioned Special Olympics event. Along with local Special Olympics organizations, such as SOTX, Topgolf and SOI will partner to host practices, competitions, and Pro-Ams at Topgolf facilities across the US and internationally — enabling Special Olympic athletes to train and compete in this sport individually or with a team. This innovative agreement also represents the first time a brand has become a medaled event at the Special Olympics.