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Case Name Juan F. v. Rell JI-CT-0004
Docket / Court 2:89-cv-00859 ( D. Conn. )
State/Territory Connecticut
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Juvenile Institution
Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization (Yale)
Case Summary
This class action involving children placed in Connecticut's Department of Children and Youth Services (DCYS) was filed on December 19, 1989 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut (Hartford). The plaintiffs were represented by Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation and ... read more >
This class action involving children placed in Connecticut's Department of Children and Youth Services (DCYS) was filed on December 19, 1989 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut (Hartford). The plaintiffs were represented by Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union; they sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the state to redress deficiencies in the child welfare system, claiming that the state violated Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 as amended, P.L. 96-272, 42 U.S.C. §§ 620-627, 670-679, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5101-5106, and the First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The complaint alleged that the defendants failed to:

  • provide adequate protective services to abused, neglected or at risk children
  • provide adequate medical care, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, sexual abuse treatment to children in DCYS care
  • ensure that all children in DCYS care receive appropriate and least restrictive placements
  • ensure that all reports regarding these children are investigated and responded to promptly by caseworkers
  • provide sufficient and trained staff
  • provide adequate records and information systems
  • make reasonable efforts to keep families together by providing threatened families with reasonable and appropriate services to prevent placement into out-of-home care
  • provide minimally-adequate and appropriate care to all of the children, placed by DCYS, into foster homes or similar settings
  • move children into adoptive or other permanent homes when reunification is impossible
  • develop and implement appropriate case plans that will assure permanent placements for all children in their custody

    On January 7, 1991, both parties reached a settlement agreement mandating broad scale reform. The reform consisted of: establishing a training academy and statewide computerized data system, appointing an advisory board, designing and implementing a management structure that delineates reporting relationships, establishing a health management unit for children under the supervision, care or custody of the department, increasing staff with qualified and experienced individuals, establishing comprehensive guidelines and regulations to facilitate the uniform intake and investigation of reports of suspected child abuse or neglect, instituting standards for treatment, case management, and family training, implementing objectives and goals for adoptions, establishing regional resource groups for consultations and evaluations, developing procedures to complete Probate Court Ordered Studies within the timeframes specified by state law, establishing the DCYS Monitoring Panel to determine, promulgate, or approve standards and procedures to fulfill the mandates of this Consent Decree, to implement reasonable timetables, and to establish mandatory funding amounts to ensure compliance. The Consent Decree could be modified, amended, or changed by the trial judge, but only upon the filing of an appropriate motion by any party or the DCYS Monitoring Panel.

    On December 19, 1996, the plaintiffs filed a motion for contempt. The defendants admitted to non-compliance and upon many negotiations, agreed in October of 2003 to require the monitor to develop a definitive exit plan with specific outcomes, to establish a Transition Task Force to assume all decision-making authority having substantial impact on the plaintiffs' safety and welfare, to establish funds of $1 million for meeting emergency needs of class members, and to ensure that the governor will not replace the Commissioner during the term of this order without consulting the monitor first. Shortly thereafter, the monitor developed an exit plan detailing necessary reforms and benchmarks that the defendants were required to meet, which was ordered by the court on December 23, 2003, and modified three years later.

    Despite the improvements made by the defendants, the plaintiffs asserted and notified the defendants of actual or likely noncompliance on May 5, 2008. Two months later, the plaintiffs withdrew their assertions of noncompliance pursuant to a stimulated agreement, in which the defendant's agreed to comply with the foster care recruitment and retention plans, administrative case reviews and treatment planning conferences plans, health care requirements.

    In December of 2009, the plaintiffs filed for a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction to prevent the defendants from suspending new intakes to one of their programs, the Voluntary Services Program. In their defense, the defendants claimed that the children receiving treatment or assistance in the program were not members of the plaintiffs' class. A year later, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, stating that children in the Voluntary Services Program are indeed members of the class. The defendants filed a motion for reconsideration on August 31, 2010, but the court denied the motion four months later (2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135238; 2010 WL 5376224).

    On April 13, 2010, the defendants sought to vacate the Consent Decree and Exit Plan, claiming that the objectives of the Consent Decree and Exit Plan have been achieved, and that factual and legal changes have since occurred that would make continued enforcement unfair. The court disagreed and denied the request just a few months later. However, the court directed the parties to meet immediately with the court monitor to discuss the methods of evaluating the state's performance. (2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99455; 2010 WL 5590094).

    As of January 2016, the parties are still working together and the court monitor is still providing the court with quarterly reports.

    Alice Liu - 02/22/2013
    Frances Hollander - 02/21/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Training
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
Least restrictive environment
General
Adoption
Classification / placement
Counseling
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Family abuse and neglect
Family reunification
Foster care (benefits, training)
Funding
Grievance Procedures
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Individualized planning
Juveniles
Neglect by staff
Parents (visitation, involvement)
Placement in mental health facilities
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Record-keeping
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Timeliness of case assignment
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA), 42 U.S.C. § 620 et seq.
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5101 et seq.
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Defendant(s) Connecticut Department of Children and Families
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are children who are now or will be in the care, custody, or supervision of Connecticut's Department of Children and Youth Services.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization (Yale)
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 1991 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
2:89−cv−00859 (D. Conn.) 02/05/2013
JI-CT-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 12/09/1989
JI-CT-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Consent Decree 01/07/1991
JI-CT-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation 10/07/2003 (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Adopting Monitor's Exit Plan) 12/23/2003 (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 03/29/2004 (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 08/03/2004 (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Revised Exit Plan 07/11/2006
JI-CT-0004-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation Regarding Outcome Measures 3 and 15 07/15/2008 (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0006.pdf | Detail
Order of Transfer 01/27/2009 (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary and Permanent Injunction to Enjoin Defendants from Suspending New Intakes to the Voluntary Services Program 12/08/2009
JI-CT-0004-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion to Vacate Consent Decree and Exit Plan Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(5) 01/13/2010
JI-CT-0004-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling and Order Interpreting Consent Decree 08/17/2010 (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Reconsideration and Memorandum of Law in Support 08/31/2010
JI-CT-0004-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling on Motion to Vacate 09/22/2010 (2010 WL 5590094 / 2010 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 99455) (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling on Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration 12/22/2010 (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Droney, Christopher Fitzgerald (Second Circuit, D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0012 | JI-CT-0004-0013 | JI-CT-0004-0014
Fitzsimmons, Holly B. (D. Conn.) [Magistrate]
JI-CT-0004-9000
Nevas, Alan Harris (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-0004 | JI-CT-0004-0006 | JI-CT-0004-0007 | JI-CT-0004-0008 | JI-CT-0004-0009
Underhill, Stefan R. (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Zampano, Robert Carmine (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0002
Monitors/Masters Atkins, David P. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Hutchison, Joseph C. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Mancuso, Raymond (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-0005 | JI-CT-0004-0006 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Shearin, James T. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Sirry, Ray D. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-0004 | JI-CT-0004-0008 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Sullivan, David Joseph Jr. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Zeldes, Jacob D. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Blank, Adam J. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Frederick, Steven M. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0006 | JI-CT-0004-0011 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Geballe, Shelley D. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0001 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Gracer, Jeffrey B. (New York)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York)
JI-CT-0004-0001 | JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-0006 | JI-CT-0004-0011 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Lustbader, Ira P. (New York)
JI-CT-0004-0011 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Newman, Jonel (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Pitchal, Erik S. (New York)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Polansky, Jessica E. (New York)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Stone, Martha (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0001 | JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Wiltsek, Gena E. (New York)
JI-CT-0004-0011 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Wizner, Stephen (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Hardy, David S. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Pearlman, Susan T. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Peterson, Anne D. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0010 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Ragaglia, Kristine D. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Robertson, James K. Jr. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Rubin, Ann R. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-0006 | JI-CT-0004-0010 | JI-CT-0004-0015 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Scholl, Jane S. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Tucker, John Essex (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Webster, Arthur E. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Welsh, James P. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Williams, Kristine D. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Zivyou, Benjamin (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Other Lawyers Annexstein, Leslie T. (New York)
JI-CT-0004-0002
Collins, Barbara J. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Creamer, Susan R. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000
Ghio, Christina D. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-9000

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