United States District Court, D. Hawaii
J.E., THROUGH HIS PARENT SUZANNE EGAN, FOR THEMSELVES AND ON BEHALF OF A CLASS OF THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATED, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
RACHEL WONG, IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS DIRECTOR OF THE STATE OF HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES, Defendant.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO DENY PLAINTIFFS'
MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION
M. KURREN, Magistrate Judge.
the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification
(Doc. 78). The Court heard this Motion on January 26, 2016.
After careful consideration of the Motion, the supporting and
opposing memoranda, and the arguments of counsel, the Court
finds and recommends that this Motion be DENIED.
discussed below in more detail below, critical issues in this
case remain unclear: whether Defendant Department of Human
Services (DHS) has a policy regarding applied behavioral
analysis (ABA) treatment, whether DHS used that policy to
deny ABA treatment or reimbursement for such treatment, and
whether Plaintiff J.E. or other proposed class members were
denied treatment. These issues overlap with the certification
inquiry and are relevant to the Court's analysis of class
certification. Given these uncertainties, the Court finds
that Plaintiffs do not establish that class certification is
appropriate at this time and recommends that class
certification be denied as premature.
J.E. is six years old, qualifies for Medicaid, and has been
diagnosed with autism. (Second Amended Complaint (SAC) Â¶Â¶ 66,
68.) Several professionals have recommended ABA treatment for
J.E.'s condition. (Id. Â¶ 69.) Plaintiffs contend that
this treatment is medically necessary for J.E. to correct,
maintain, or ameliorate the effects of his disability. (Id.)
Although J.E. may have initially been informed by DHS that
ABA treatment would not be covered, Plaintiffs state that DHS
eventually reimbursed his provider for the treatment.
Plaintiff Hawaii Disability Rights Center (HDRC) is a
nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to protect and
advocate for the legal and civil rights of people with
disabilities. (Id. Â¶ 21.)
J.E. and HDRC bring this lawsuit on behalf of the following
All former, current, and future Medicaid-eligible persons in
Hawaii under the age of twenty-one who have been diagnosed
with an Autism Spectrum Disorder ("autism") and
prescribed or recommended applied behavioral analysis
("ABA") treatment to ameliorate their condition.
(Motion at 1, SAC Â¶Â¶ 76-77.) Plaintiffs claim that DHS has a
blanket policy, whereby it does not provide Medicaid coverage
for ABA treatment regardless of medical necessity and, thus,
fails to comply with the Medicaid Act. (SAC Â¶ 1.)
move for certification of its proposed class. A plaintiff
moving to certify a class has the burden of showing that the
proposed class satisfies the requirements of Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure Rule 23. See Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v.
Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 2548 (2010). Rule 23(a) states
four threshold requirements applicable to all class actions:
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are
typical of the claims or ...