Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

The Evolution of Disability Rights Litigation (and some stories)

David Ferleger, Esq.

About David Ferleger

David Ferleger, J.D. of Philadelphia, PA, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1972. He has a national law and consulting practice, specializing in public interest, civil rights and disability law.

He has litigated landmark disability cases, argued five times before the Supreme Court of the United States, assisted the courts, represented individuals and government agencies, taught law school, and has written, lectured and consulted nationally.

Mr. Ferleger has served federal courts, presiding over hearings and assisting courts as special master for nearly nine years in one recent case, and as court-appointed monitor in a large class action in another case.

Mr. Ferleger's experience also includes representing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including its Governor, in settling amicably five complex disability federal class action lawsuits, as well as representing individual and class plaintiffs in many other disputes, often reaching major structural change through discussion and negotiation, as well as judicial decisions.

Mr. Ferleger filed in 1974 and litigated to its conclusion many years later the landmark Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital case, the first federal court decision to hold that there is a right to community services for people with disabilities. For about twenty years, he represented plaintiffs in Lelsz v. Kavanagh, a Texas class action which reformed the mental retardation system in the state. He has worked with numerous federal-state protection and advocacy agencies for decades.
Additional public service work has included inspection of facilities for the West Virginia Supreme Court's Juvenile Justice Committee, and assisting the National Institute of Mental Health, the State of Wyoming, the State of New Jersey, the National Disabilities Rights Network, and other bodies as well on disability issues.

Mr. Ferleger has taught at the New York University Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Writing in the disabilities field has included book chapters, books of legal materials, law review articles, and popular magazine and newspaper articles. He is the author of the The Constitutional Right to Community Services (Georgia State University Law Review, Spring 2010). Mr. Ferleger is a founding member of the Academy of Court Appointed Masters (ACAM), and was on the publications committee for its Bench Book for judges.

He has visited mental health and intellectual and developmental disabilities programs in about 30 states and internationally. Mr. Ferleger is experienced in civil rights, employment, academic and university disputes, disabilities, ADA, real estate, housing and investments.

His public speaking has ranged from an invited presentation for a United Nations Conference on disability issues in Iceland, testimony before the United States Senate, plenary addresses, speeches and workshops at professional and consumer conferences coast to coast.

In addition to his legal work (, Mr. Ferleger is a Registered Investment Advisor; his firm is Ferleger Wealth Management, LLC, and provides investment and portfolio consultation and management.

Education: University of Pennsylvania, BA 1969; University of Pennsylvania Law School, JD 1972.
Telephone: 215 887 0123

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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center, the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 2301MNSCDD-02, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.

This website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $1,120,136.00 with 83 percent funded by ACL/HHS and $222,000.00 and 17 percent funded by non-federal-government source(s). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.