The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Thomas J. Whelan United States District Judge
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR INTERVENTION BY RON DIEDRICH, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DIRECTOR OF CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS
On February 5, 2008 Plaintiff C.S., by and through his Conservator, Mary Struble ("Plaintiff"), filed this class action complaint against Defendant California Department of Education ("Defendant" or "CDE") alleging Individuals with Education Disabilities Act ("IDEA"), Supremacy Clause, and Equal Protection violations and seeking injunctive relief. (Doc. No. 1.) On February 19, 2008 Plaintiff moved for a temporary restraining order ("TRO") to restrain Defendant CDE from contracting with the Office of Administrative Hearings ("Intervenor" or "OAH"). (Doc. No. 4.) On March 7, 2008 OAH moved to intervene as a separate defendant in this action. (Doc. No. 14.) The Court takes the matter under submission and without oral argument. See S.D. Cal. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(1). For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS OAH's motion to intervene in this lawsuit. (Doc. No. 14.)
The following is a summary of arguments and allegations made in Plaintiff's complaint and the parties' moving papers. Unless otherwise noted, nothing shall be taken as a finding of fact by this Court.
Plaintiff C.S. is an eighteen year-old, conserved student who qualifies for special education under the Autism eligibility category. (Compl. ¶ 16.) Plaintiff alleges that he participated as a party in an administrative due process hearing, which was conducted in such a way as to deny him certain federal and constitutional rights. (Id. ¶ 10.) Plaintiff brings this action on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated.
Defendant California Department of Education ("CDE") is a California agency tasked to administer the California education system. (Id. ¶ 25.) By receiving federal funds, federal law mandates that CDE provide disabled students' parents with impartial administrative due process hearings. (Id.) Defendant CDE contracts with Intervenor Office of Administrative Hearings ("OAH") to conduct these hearings. (Id. ¶ 26.) Under the contract, OAH must provide Administrative Law Judges ("ALJs") knowledgeable and trained in special education law. (Id. ¶ 10.) CDE is also required to oversee the ALJ training and implementation of special education law. (Id.)
On February 5, 2008 Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant CDE, alleging that CDE failed to adequately supervise OAH's administrative hearing process. (Doc. No. 1.) The gist of Plaintiff's complaint is that CDE's contractual relationship with OAH is unlawful because the ALJs are neither appropriately trained nor following or implimenting relevant federal law. (Id. ¶ 3.) Plaintiff alleges that he, and all others similarly situated, have been denied due process as a result of poor ALJ performance. (Id. ¶ 17.)
On February 19, 2008 Plaintiff moved for a temporary restraining order, arguing that CDE should be enjoined from renewing the current contract with OAH, which expires on July 1, 2008. (Doc. No. 4.) After two continuances, the Court is set to hear the TRO on April 28, 2008, and Defendant's response in opposition is due on April 14, 2008. (Doc. No. 12.)
On March 7, 2008 Intervenor Ron Diedich, in his official capacity as Director and Chief Administrative Law Judge of the State of California Office of Administrative Hearings ("OAH"), moved for an order permitting OAH to intervene as a defendant in this action. (Doc. No. 14.) Per OAH's request, the Court established a briefing schedule with the goal of granting or denying the intervenor motion before Defendant's TRO opposition is due. (Doc. No. 18.) Among other things, the Court ordered that Plaintiff oppose the OAH's motion by March 24, 2008, an amount of time consistent with the time allotted to oppose a noticed motion under the Local Rules. See S.D. Cal. Civ. R. 7.1(e)(1), (2).
On March 24, 2008 Plaintiff opposed OAH's motion to intervene. (Doc. No. 21.) The same day, Plaintiff moved ex parte for an Order to Show Cause why Defendant should not be ordered to file an answer to Plaintiff's complaint. (Doc. No. 24.) The Court dismissed Plaintiff's motion as moot when CDE filed an answer the next day, on March 25, 2008. (Doc. No. 26.)
On March 28, 2008 OAH filed its reply. (Doc. No. 28.) On April 1, 2008 Plaintiff moved for leave to file a sur-reply, arguing that he was prejudiced in preparing his opposition because Defendant CDE had not yet filed an answer. (Doc. No. 29.) The same day, the Court granted Plaintiff's motion and Plaintiff filed his sur-reply on April 4, 2008. (Doc. Nos. 32, 33.) The Court notes that Defendant CDE has not opposed OAH's motion, and OAH alleges that CDE is willing to stipulate to the requested intervention. (OAH Mot. 3.)
A. Rule 24(a)(2)-Intervention As A ...