Court Cases on Special Education

Court Cases on Special Education

April v. Associated Catholic Charities of New Orleans
629 F. 2d 1295 (Ct. App. 4th Cir. 1993)

Christopher April was born in 1984, and adopted by the plaintiffs in 1985. In 1991 the parents sued the adoption agency for "wrongful adoption." The trial court concluded that Louisiana law recognized a claim for wrongful adoption; the appellate court did not reach that issue.

Instead, the court of appeal concluded that the parents had waited too long to sue. The court held that, at the least, the parents had reasonable notice that they might have a cause of action when their pediatric neurologist told them that the child had FAS. The court's opinion suggested the parents were on notice years earlier that the child had serious neurological problems, and that it might not matter that they only learned later that FAS was the cause. (629 So. 2d at 1298). Under Louisiana law the parents were required to file suit within one year of the date when they knew that they had a claim, which they had not done.

The earliest signs of possible FAS were that the child had a small-head (microcephalic), and had a seizure when he was 8 months old. (629 So. 2d at 1296-97).

When the child was two and in day care, the school noted that he was "extremely hyper" and referred his parents to the local board of education. Based on that evaluation, and a finding that his speech development was slow, the school system placed the child in special education at the age of three. (629 So. 2d at 1297). The mother first began to suspect FAS after she read The Broken Cord, and saw the movie of the same name.

Another physician, Dr. Diane Africk, also diagnosed the child as having FAS. "Dr. Africk did not undertake any treatment because none is available." (629 So. 2d at 1297.)