United States District Court, D. Minnesota
G.C. and J.C. by their friend and Mother Angela Tsiang, Plaintiffs,
South Washington County School District 833, and Dr. Keith Jacobus, Superintendent of the South Washington County School 833, Defendants.
J.E. Markham, II, Esq. and Markham & Read, One Commercial
Wharf West, counsel for plaintiffs.
P. Edison, Esq., Michael J. Waldspurger, Esq. and Rupp,
Anderson, Squires & Waldspurger, counsel for defendants.
S. Doty, Judge.
matter is before the court upon notice that plaintiff G.C.,
by his next friend and mother Angela Tsiang, is no longer
attending a school within defendant South Washington County
School District 833 (the District). Through this suit,
plaintiff is seeking injunctive relief requiring defendant
and its superintendent Dr. Keith Jacobus to make certain
accommodations because G.C. allegedly suffers from
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome.
initially requested an injunction requiring the District to
meet and confer with plaintiff’s parents to determine
reasonable accommodations to address G.C.'s disability.
At oral argument on the District’s motions for summary
judgment and to exclude expert witness testimony, counsel for
plaintiff clarified that he seeks the following specific
injunctive relief: (1) allow G.C. to sit as far away from the
Wi-Fi access point in the classroom as possible; (2) allow
G.C. to hook up an Ethernet cable for his computer; (3) allow
G.C. to go to the library and use the Ethernet cable there if
there is a classroom assignment that requires Internet use;
(4) turn down the Wi-Fi in G.C.'s classrooms; and (5)
allow G.C. to go to the nurse’s office when he does not
feel well. Before the court ruled on the District’s
pending motions, plaintiff filed noted that he no longer
attends school in the District. Under these circumstances,
the court can no longer meaningfully provide the relief he
argues that the case is not moot despite the change in
schools and school districts because G.C. may want to attend
his previous school in the District in the future. The
District agrees with plaintiff, arguing that the dispute
could resurface in the future. The District further notes
that it has already expended substantial resources in
defending this action. The court is mindful of the
parties’ positions and the lengthy course of this
litigation, but nevertheless finds that the case is moot.
is of no consequence that the controversy was live at earlier
stages in this case; it must be live when we decide the
issues.” South Dakota v. Hazen, 914 F.2d 147,
150 (8th Cir. 1990). “When, during the course of
litigation, the issues presented in a case ‘lose their
life because of the passage of time or a change in
circumstances .... and a federal court can no longer grant
effective relief, ’ the case is considered moot.”
Haden v. Pelofsky, 212 F.3d 466, 469 (8th Cir. 2000)
(quoting Beck v. Mo. State High Sch. Activities
Ass’n, 18 F.3d 604, 605 (8th Cir. 1994)).
“[I]f this case is indeed moot, we must refrain from
reaching the merits because any opinion issued would be
merely ‘advisory’ and rest on hypothetical
underpinnings.” Missouri ex rel. Nixon v.
Craig, 163 F.3d 482, 484 (8th Cir. 1998).
the court finds that it cannot grant effective relief under
the circumstances presented. First, the requested
accommodations, if ordered, would be wholly without effect.
Plaintiff currently attends a different school in another
school district. Thus, nothing ordered by the court would
affect plaintiff’s current educational setting.
Plaintiff’s requested accommodations are directed to
his former school and, notably, the specific symptoms he
experienced while he attended that school. Any accommodations
he may seek from his new school are an entirely separate
the court has little confidence, based on the extensive
record before it,  that the most recent list of requested
accommodations, even if ordered, would be satisfactory to
plaintiff should he return to his previous school in the
District. Rather, the court finds it more likely that the
injunctive relief plaintiff currently seeks may no longer be
fitting – or certainly exhaustive - in the future. The
court is also concerned that plaintiff’s symptoms may
be different in kind or severity at a later date given their
current breadth and variability. Under these circumstances,
the court concludes that the case is moot and must be
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. The case is dismissed without prejudice; and
2. The pending motions are denied as moot without prejudice.
JUDGMENT BE ...