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Case Name Fields v. McDonald PB-IL-0001
Docket / Court 1:89-cv-01624 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
This class action was filed on behalf of impoverished parents and legal guardians who have lost, are at risk of losing, or cannot regain custody of their children from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) because they are homeless or unable to provide food or shelter for ... read more >
This class action was filed on behalf of impoverished parents and legal guardians who have lost, are at risk of losing, or cannot regain custody of their children from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) because they are homeless or unable to provide food or shelter for their children. Plaintiffs filed their lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in 1989 in the U.C. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants' policies violated provisions of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the policies and practices of taking and retaining children of impoverished parents; failing to assist parents to secure food, cash, shelter, and other subsistence through coordination of services; failing to make reasonable efforts at reunification; and abridging the liberty and property interests of parents in retaining custody of their children while requiring them to maintain the means to support themselves and their families.

Two class members secured a preliminary injunction, requiring defendants to issue sufficient funds to secure housing and utilities, restore Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) benefits, and identify all other sources of financial assistance.

On March 28, 1992, the court approved a consent decree, providing for detailed policies and development of new programs for cash and housing assistance, and for extensive monitoring. After defendants failed to meet several deadlines, the parties negotiated the scope of the decree, its implementation, and mandated compliance reports.

On March 10, 1995, the parties entered an agreed order to extend the monitor's term for two years, to have DCFS hire a housing specialist to create a system for ensuring that families are reunified speedily, to investigate a new pre-court "screening" to prevent unnecessary removal of children, and to provide for an ombudsperson to resolve individual class member problems. The court reduced the monitoring period to one year. When DCFS refused an extension at the expiration of the monitor's term, plaintiffs filed a motion for continued monitoring and/or declaratory and injunctive relief for noncompliance.

Defendants argued that the decree was unenforceable after Suter v. Artist M. absent a finding of contempt. Defendants also argued that DCFS had "substantially complied" with the decree, and, therefore, the court could neither make a finding of contempt nor grant relief. On April 11, 1996, the court ruled against defendants, ordering continued monitoring on limited issues.

Monitoring continued for one year, and the parties entered into a limited out-of-court agreement for continued monitoring. Counsel for plaintiffs continue to work with impoverished parents to ensure that they are able to access Norman services.

- 02/20/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
General
Family reunification
Housing assistance
Pattern or Practice
Poverty/homelessness
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
Plaintiff Description class of parents and legal guardians who have lost, are at risk of losing, will lose, or cannot regain custody of their children because they are homeless or unable to provide food or shelter for their children.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Docket(s)
1:89-cv-01624 (N.D. Ill.) 05/07/1997
PB-IL-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 02/27/1989
PB-IL-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Plaintiffs' Post Trial Memorandum 07/18/1989
PB-IL-0001-0012.pdf | Detail
Report and Recommendation 01/16/1990 (N.D. Ill.)
PB-IL-0001-0013.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order 05/18/1990 (739 F.Supp. 1182) (N.D. Ill.)
PB-IL-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Consent Order 03/28/1991
PB-IL-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Plaintiff's Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in Support of Preliminary Injunctive Relief 02/12/1996
PB-IL-0001-0011.pdf | Detail
Motion for (1) Continued Monitoring and/or (2) Declaratory and Injunctive Relief Redressing Substantial Non-Compliance with the Consent Decree and the Court Order of March 10, 1995 02/15/1996
PB-IL-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Reply Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Continued Monitoring and/or Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 03/11/1996
PB-IL-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Defendant's Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Continued Monitoring and/or Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 03/15/1996
PB-IL-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order 04/11/1996 (N.D. Ill.)
PB-IL-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order 04/11/1996 (930 F.Supp. 1219) (N.D. Ill.)
PB-IL-0001-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
7th Monitoring Report 06/03/1996
PB-IL-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
8th Monitoring Report 05/07/1997
PB-IL-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Judges Gottschall, Joan B. (N.D. Ill.) [Magistrate]
PB-IL-0001-0013
Hart, William Thomas (N.D. Ill.)
PB-IL-0001-0003 | PB-IL-0001-0006 | PB-IL-0001-0007 | PB-IL-0001-0010 | PB-IL-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters Smith, Jeanine (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-0001 | PB-IL-0001-0002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Heybach, Laurene Marie (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-0005 | PB-IL-0001-0008 | PB-IL-0001-0009 | PB-IL-0001-0010 | PB-IL-0001-0011 | PB-IL-0001-9000
Matlack, Joan (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-0009 | PB-IL-0001-0010 | PB-IL-0001-9000
Redleaf, Diane L. (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-0005 | PB-IL-0001-0009 | PB-IL-0001-0010 | PB-IL-0001-0012 | PB-IL-0001-9000
Wishnick, Susan (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-0009 | PB-IL-0001-0010
Defendant's Lawyers Baer, Kimberley K. (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-9000
Cason, Tiffanie N (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-0004
Eisenhauer, Nancy S. (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-0004 | PB-IL-0001-9000
Getzendanner, Susan Christine O'Meara (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-9000
Greenspan, Barbara Lynn (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-9000
Murphy, Bart Thomas (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-9000
Smith, Charles Matthew (Georgia)
PB-IL-0001-9000
Steimel, Danielle J. (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-9000
Tchen, Christina M. (Illinois)
PB-IL-0001-0004 | PB-IL-0001-0010 | PB-IL-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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