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7 July 2004

C.J. Summers Wins Seventh Circuit Reversal
Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP

On 7 July 2004, the Seventh Circuit issued its opinion in McCormick v. Waukegan School District #60, No. 02-1538, reversing the district court's dismissal of Eron McCormick's claims for damages. Eron has a rare form of muscular dystrophy that makes even mild physical exertion dangerous. He suffered permanent damage to his muscles and kidneys when a physical education instructor forced him to run laps and do push-ups that exceeded his abilities and were prohibited by his Individual Education Plan. The district court dismissed Eron's claim for damages based on these injuries because he did not exhaust administrative procedures under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The Seventh Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Kanne, held that Eron was not required to exhaust administrative procedures because the IDEA could not provide a remedy for his physical injuries. The opinion makes clear that there are significant exceptions to the IDEA's exhaustion requirement, depending on the nature of the student's claim. This clarifies an earlier Seventh Circuit opinion with language implying that exhaustion was required in most if not all situations. Eron's case was remanded to the Northern District of Illinois.

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