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Case Name G.F. v. Contra Costa County JI-CA-0024
Docket / Court 3:13-cv-03667-MEJ ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Education
Juvenile Institution
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On August 8, 2013, detainees of the Costa County Juvenile Hall filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Contra Costa County, California. The plaintiffs, represented by counsel from the Disability Rights Advocates, alleged that defendants ... read more >
On August 8, 2013, detainees of the Costa County Juvenile Hall filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Contra Costa County, California. The plaintiffs, represented by counsel from the Disability Rights Advocates, alleged that defendants discriminated against disabled youth in the Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall.

Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that because Contra Costa County denied the plaintiffs special education and related services, the plaintiffs misbehaved and were punished; during punishment, the plaintiffs were placed in solitary confinement for at least 22 hours per day, which made their disabilities worse and made the plaintiffs more likely to misbehave again. The plaintiffs alleged that the solitary confinement, denial of rehabilitative services while in solitary confinement, and denial of special education and other services even while out of solitary confinement violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), the American Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and three state anti-discrimination laws. Plaintiffs sought class certification, declaratory judgment, injunctive relief with monitoring by a special master, and attorney fees.

The case was assigned to Judge Saundra B. Armstrong. Over the next year, the defendants moved to dismiss the case, and the plaintiffs moved for class certification. The plaintiffs amended their complaint to drop all defendants except Contra Costa County and Contra Costa County Office of Education. As a result, Judge Armstrong denied as moot the motions for dismissal and class certification, and both parties refiled their motions to include the updated parties and proceedings.

On January 16, 2014, the County filed three separate suits in this same Court, one against each plaintiff, arguing that the underlying Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) for California improperly found that the County's Probation Department could be sued under the IDEA. The County requested attorney fees for the appeal and that the Court set aside the OAH findings. The plaintiffs moved to consolidate their action with the County's three suits, but the Court deferred litigation on the County's claims until a decision was made on its motion to dismiss plaintiffs' claims.

On February 13, 2014, the United States filed a Statement of Interest concerning protection of detained youth, especially when solitary confinement was involved. The U.S. explained that it had an interest in the case because of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, which allows the U.S. to investigate juvenile detention facilities for unlawful detention practices. The U.S. argued that the County had a duty to provide services, activities and programs to qualified youth, and that the law does not allow discrimination based on disabilities. For that reason, the U.S. requested that the Court consider the Statement of Interest and deny defendants' motion to dismiss.

Following extensive negotiations, the plaintiffs reached settlement agreements with both Contra Costa County and the Contra Costa County Office of Education. On November 25, 2015, the court (Judge Maria-Elena James) approved the settlement agreements. 2015 WL 7571789.

Under the settlement agreement with Contra Costa County, the County would no longer use solitary confinement for discipline, punishment, administrative convenience, retaliation, staffing shortages, or reasons other than a temporary response to behavior that threatens immediate harm to the youth or others. In line with national standards, the County could segregate a youth in his or her room for no more than four hours but only if the youth’s behavior risked immediate harm to themselves or others. After four hours, the Probation Department had to remove the youth from confinement, develop specialized individualized programming for the youth, or assess whether the youth should be transported to a mental health facility.

Under the settlement agreement with the Contra Costa County Office of Education, the County Office of Education would retain an outside expert to evaluate its compliance with federal and state special education laws and to ensure that the students with disabilities in Juvenile Hall would receive the special education that they need. The expert would make recommended revisions to policies, procedures and practices as they relate to Child Find, development and implementation of individualized education plans, and discipline, which the County’s Board of Education will adopt.

The defendants also agreed to pay $1,340,000 in attorneys' fees. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreements, which were scheduled to last for four years.

On December 18, 2015, the court approved the parties motion to modify the settlement agreements' procedures for choosing experts to monitor implementation.

Maurice Youkanna - 06/24/2014
Richard Jolly - 11/05/2014
Jessica Kincaid - 02/05/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Disciplinary segregation
Disparate Impact
Education
Juveniles
Rehabilitation
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Schizophrenia
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) Contra Costa County
Plaintiff Description Jvenile detainees who suffer from mental disabilities and face discrimination in a county juvenile hall.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2015 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Links G.F. et al. v. Contra Costa County et al.
DRAlegal.org
Posted: May. 19, 2015
By: Disability Rights Advocates
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
C13-3667 (N.D. Cal.) 01/11/2016
JI-CA-0024-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief 08/08/2013
JI-CA-0024-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Lawsuit Details Solitary Confinement and Failure to Educate Young People with Disabilities in Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall 08/08/2013
JI-CA-0024-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
First Amended Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief 12/24/2013
JI-CA-0024-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ Denying motions to dismiss as moot] 12/30/2013 (N.D. Cal.)
JI-CA-0024-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the United States of America 02/03/2014
JI-CA-0024-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Class Action Settlement Agreement 04/30/2015
JI-CA-0024-0007.pdf | Detail
Settlement Agreement with Contra Costa County 05/11/2015
JI-CA-0024-0008.pdf | Detail
Order Granting Final Approval of Settlement Agreements and Granting Motion for Reasonable Attorneys' Fees and Costs 11/25/2015 (N.D. Cal.)
JI-CA-0024-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Bloomberg Law
Judges Armstrong, Saundra Brown (N.D. Cal.)
JI-CA-0024-0004 | JI-CA-0024-9000
James, Maria-Elena (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
JI-CA-0024-0009 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Spero, Joseph C. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
JI-CA-0024-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Carter, Grace A (California)
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Chen, Lillian (California)
JI-CA-0024-9000
Chernicoff, Zoe P (California)
JI-CA-0024-9000
Clayton, Patrick Bradford (California)
JI-CA-0024-9000
Cook, Gina (California)
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Faer, Laura F. (California)
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-0007 | JI-CA-0024-0008 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Janssen, Kara J. (California)
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Juneja, Poonam (California)
JI-CA-0024-9000
Marks, Julia Zoog (California)
JI-CA-0024-9000
Mason, Daniel Simon (California)
JI-CA-0024-9000
Parks, Shawna L (California)
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Pitts, Freya E. K. (California)
JI-CA-0024-9000
Rankie, Heather T. (California)
JI-CA-0024-9000
Smith, Mary-Lee Kimber (California)
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-0003 | JI-CA-0024-0007 | JI-CA-0024-0008 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Vera, Hernan D. (California)
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Williford, Rebecca S. (California)
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Wolinsky, Sidney M. (California)
JI-CA-0024-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Baker, D. Cameron (California)
JI-CA-0024-0008 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Mishook, David R (California)
JI-CA-0024-9000
Smith, Kimberly A (California)
JI-CA-0024-0007 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Other Lawyers Wilson, Ryan C (District of Columbia)
JI-CA-0024-0006 | JI-CA-0024-9000

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