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Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Children with Autism

Author: Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Published: 2010-06-17

Synopsis and Key Points:

Court Preliminarily Approves Settlement Agreement in Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Children With Autism and Orders Notice to be Provided to All Class Members.

Main Digest

Court Preliminarily Approves Settlement Agreement in Class Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Children With Autism and Orders Notice to be Provided to All Class Members

On June 10, 2010, the Los Angeles Superior Court issued an Order granting preliminary approval of a Settlement Agreement in the class action lawsuit, Benito R., et. al. v. Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center, et. al., which was filed on behalf of hundreds of children with autism against the Eastern Los Angeles Regional Center (ELARC) earlier this year, after ELARC terminated funding for Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based ("DIR") treatment services.

Among other things, the Judge's Order requires notice to be mailed to all members of the class, including every parent of a child diagnosed with or provisionally diagnosed with autism served (or, if possible, who will be served) by the East Los Angeles Regional Center so that they know what is required of ELARC under the terms of the Settlement Agreement.

The Settlement Agreement requires, among other things, that ELARC continue funding and paying for all DIR or DIR/Floortime treatment programs for all eligible children who have been diagnosed, or provisionally diagnosed with autism. It also enjoins ELARC from:

1) failing to make DIR treatment programs available to Class Members;

2) classifying, characterizing, identifying or labeling DIR treatment programs as "experimental," "non-medical therapy," "specialized recreation," or "social recreational" as those terms are used in the Trailer Bill;

3) asking, pressuring, conditioning or otherwise requiring a Class Member to give up, barter, or otherwise reduce or terminate another service in order to receive DIR treatment services; and

(4) engaging in any sort of retaliatory behavior against any Class Member or person associated with a Class Member.

Earlier this year, the Court issued a preliminary injunction to reinstate funding for DIR treatment services. The Class Plaintiffs in this action are represented, on a pro bono basis, by the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and by Public Counsel Law Center. Additional information about the Class Notices for this case can be found on ELARC's website, beginning on June 15th, www.elarc.org/. The Settlement Agreement and the Superior Court Order are also available at www.publiccounsel.org

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