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Case Name Jeanine B. v. Doyle CW-WI-0001
Docket / Court 93-0547 ( E.D. Wis. )
State/Territory Wisconsin
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Children's Rights, Inc.
Case Summary
Children's Rights, the ACLU, and private co-counsel filed this class action lawsuit in 1993, in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, against the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services and the Milwaukee County Department of Human Services. The complaint ... read more >
Children's Rights, the ACLU, and private co-counsel filed this class action lawsuit in 1993, in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, against the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services and the Milwaukee County Department of Human Services. The complaint alleges abuse and neglect of children in the Milwaukee child-welfare system, inadequate investigations into abuse and neglect, lack of services, improper foster care placement, and high caseworker caseloads. The plaintiffs alleged violations of state law and federal law, including the Adoption Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 620-28, 670-79(a); Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), 42 U.S.C. § 5101-5106(a); Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12121-12150; and Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794.

In early 1995, the Court granted the state defendants' motion to dismiss claims as to the state defendants brought under 42 U.S.C. § 671(a)(15) of the Adoption Assistance Act and under the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, the Court certified the class of plaintiffs as children who are in foster care in Milwaukee County, and children about whom the county Department of Human Services received reports of abuse or neglect. Jeanine B. v. Thompson, 877 F. Supp. 1268 (E.D. Wisc. 1995).

The case then proceeded towards a trial bifurcated into a liability stage and a remedy stage. However, during preparations for trial in 1995, the Wisconsin state Legislature passed a provision that required the state Department of Health and Social Services to propose a plan for state takeover of the Milwaukee County child welfare system by 1998. In light of the legislative action, the Court denied the state defendant's motion for partial summary judgment on constitutional issues, adjourned the trial date, and required the parties to determine whether the law provided interim relief and how relief affected the liability and remedial aspects of the case.

After both plaintiffs and defendants provided a series of briefings to the Court, the plaintiffs moved for preliminary injunction in February 1997. The plaintiffs claimed that the pending state takeover would only exacerbate problems in Milwaukee County's child welfare system. In response, the Court denied plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction under CAPTA. Jeanine B. v. Thompson, 967 F. Supp. 1104 (E.D. Wisc. 1997).

In 1998, the Court dismissed as moot the plaintiffs' claims against the county and proceeded with discovery for trial. After extensive discovery, the plaintiffs filed a supplemental complaint in 1999 and a second supplemental complaint in 2000. Trial was set for 2003. In September 2002, however, the parties reached a settlement agreement that provided for phased improvements to the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, which included decreased caseworker caseloads, elimination of shelter placements, and special diagnostic/assessment centers for children.

The parties modified the settlement agreement in 2003 and again in 2012. Attorneys' fees were awarded to the plaintiffs. As of the date of this summary, monitoring continues.

Elizabeth Homan - 11/25/2012
Dan Whitman - 11/29/2015


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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
Content of Injunction
Monitoring
Preliminary relief denied
Reporting
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Adoption
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Counseling
Emergency shelter
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Family abuse and neglect
Family reunification
Foster care (benefits, training)
Juveniles
Neglect by staff
Placement in shelters
Siblings (visitation, placement)
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Timeliness of case assignment
Mental Disability
Depression
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5101 et seq.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Adoption Assistance Program, 42 U.S.C. § 670 et seq.
Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA), 42 U.S.C. § 620 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Milwaukee County Department of Human Services
Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services
Plaintiff Description Children in foster care in Milwaukee County, and children about whom the county Department of Human Services received reports of abuse or neglect
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Children's Rights, Inc.
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 2002 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Legal Accountability in the Service-Based Welfare State: Lessons from Child Welfare Reform
By: Kathleen G. Noonan, Charles F. Sabel, William H. Simon (Center for High Impact Philanthropy , Columbia Law School and Stanford Law School)
Citation: 34 Law & Soc. Inquiry 523 (Summer 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Making Child Welfare Work: How the R.C. Lawsuit Forged New Partnerships to Protect Children and Sustain Families
By: Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law (Bazelon Center)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
2:93−cv−00547 (E.D. Wis.) 01/21/2014
CW-WI-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 06/01/1993
CW-WI-0001-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Federal Supplement 03/02/1995
CW-WI-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Federal Supplement 06/09/1997
CW-WI-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Modified Settlement Agreement 11/14/2003
CW-WI-0001-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Decision and Order 11/17/2006 (E.D. Wis.)
CW-WI-0001-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Consent Order 04/18/2008 (E.D. Wis.)
CW-WI-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Modified Settlement Agreement 05/31/2012
CW-WI-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER APPROVING MODIFICATION OF SECTION I.D.9. OF THE MODIFIED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT 05/31/2012 (E.D. Wis.)
CW-WI-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Randa, Rudolph Thomas (E.D. Wis.)
CW-WI-0001-0002 | CW-WI-0001-0004 | CW-WI-0001-0005 | CW-WI-0001-0006 | CW-WI-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bloodhart, Ann K (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Dorsky, Daniel S. (New York)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Dunn, Christopher (New York)
CW-WI-0001-0001 | CW-WI-0001-9000
Hechtman, Sarah (New York)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Holloway, Jean F (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Kasak, Cynthia J (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Klaas, Heather (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Kleinhans, Kacy F (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Koneazny, Peter M. (Wisconsin)
CW-WI-0001-0001 | CW-WI-0001-9000
Langdon, James K II (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York)
CW-WI-0001-0001 | CW-WI-0001-0002 | CW-WI-0001-9000
Martinez, Micabil Diaz (Wisconsin)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Merz, Gregory R (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Moloney, Lawrence A. (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Murdaugh, Anne W. (New York)
CW-WI-0001-0001 | CW-WI-0001-9000
Nealon, Kellie M (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Park, Rachel (New York)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Peters, Mark G. (New York)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Prine, Kenneth A. (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Stone, Martha (New York)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Thompson, Eric E. (New York)
CW-WI-0001-0002 | CW-WI-0001-0004 | CW-WI-0001-0005 | CW-WI-0001-9000
Westgard, Kristen Solveig (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Wittrock, Quentin R (Minnesota)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Anderson, Peter C. (Wisconsin)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Barnett, Paul L (Wisconsin)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Burke, Mary E. (Wisconsin)
CW-WI-0001-0002 | CW-WI-0001-0004 | CW-WI-0001-0005 | CW-WI-0001-9000
Finkelmeyer, Corey F. (Wisconsin)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Jorgensen, John (Wisconsin)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Schlaefer, Mary Woolsey (Wisconsin)
CW-WI-0001-9000
Stier, Daniel D. (Wisconsin)
CW-WI-0001-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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