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Case Name Grant v. Cuomo CW-NY-0004
Docket / Court 25168/85 ( State Court )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Case Summary
On October 28, 1985, New York City families with children at risk of removal to foster care, along with non-profit institutions dedicated to children's rights, filed a lawsuit under the federal Social Services Law, U.S. Code, and various state laws mandating the provision of social services, ... read more >
On October 28, 1985, New York City families with children at risk of removal to foster care, along with non-profit institutions dedicated to children's rights, filed a lawsuit under the federal Social Services Law, U.S. Code, and various state laws mandating the provision of social services, against State Department of Social Services and City Department of Social Services in the Supreme Court of New York County, Special Term. Represented by public and private counsel, the plaintiffs sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief, claiming that the agencies failed to fulfill their duty to provide specified protective services as mandated by state and federal law. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that federal and state law required defendants to provide a host of preventive and protective services designed to prevent the placement of children in foster care, and to ensure that reports of child abuse are effectively investigated in a timely manner.

The plaintiffs claimed that they suffered irreparable harm due to the defendants' failure to provide required services in a timely way. These services included childcare, homemaker assistance, assistance finding adequate housing, counseling, and other services designed to prevent the removal of children from their families into foster care. In addition, the plaintiffs alleged that the agencies consistently failed their duty under state law to investigate reports of child abuse within twenty-four hours, conduct home visits or in-person interviews of subjects of such reports, or offer appropriate services to allegedly abused children, their families, or both.

On May 27, 1986, the Court (Judge Edward Lehner) granted family-plaintiffs' motions for a preliminary injunction requiring City defendants to prepare service plans within 30 days and provide whatever preventive services were specified therein. The Court also granted institutional-plantiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction in part, requiring City defendants to investigate reports of child abuse within 24 hours. Finally, the Court denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification as superfluous, and denied defendants' motion for summary judgment. Grant v. Cuomo, 509 N.Y.S.2d 685 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1986). Defendants appealed these three components of this order.

On July 9, 1987, the Supreme Court Appellate Division (Judge Leonard Sandler) affirmed and modified the lower court's order. This Court affirmed the granting of institutional-plaintiffs' injunction regarding protective services, but found that the statutes did not impose a nondiscretionary duty to comply with the service plans. For that reason, the Court modified the order to exclude the family-plaintiffs' injunction requiring City defendants to make and comply with service plans. Grant v. Cuomo, 518 N.Y.S.2d 105 (N.Y. 1988).

On December 20, 1988, the Court of Appeals of New York (Chief Judge Sol Wachtler, Judge Richard Simons, Judge Judith Kaye, Judge Alexander, Judge Vito Titone, Judge Stewart Hancock, and Judge Joseph Bellacosa) held that regulation of Department of Social Services did not impose any nondiscretionary duty to provide preventive services and affirmed the ruling of the Supreme Court Appellate Division.

Timothy Shoffner - 06/01/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Poverty/homelessness
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) New York City Department of Social Services
New York City Human Resources Administration
New York State Department of Social Services
Plaintiff Description New York City families with children at risk of removal to foster care, along with non-profit institutions dedicated to children's rights
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 1988
Case Ongoing No
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)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Complaint 05/21/1986
CW-NY-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Opinion [Supreme Court, Special Term] 05/27/1986 (134 Misc.2d 83)
CW-NY-0004-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion [Supreme Court, Appellate Division] 07/09/1987 (130 A.D.2d 154)
CW-NY-0004-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order (granting defendant's motion to dismiss appeal) [Ct Appeals of NY] 12/17/1987 (519 N.E.2d 339)
CW-NY-0004-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion of the Court [Ct Appeals] 12/20/1988 (534 N.E.2d 32)
CW-NY-0004-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Lehner, Edward H. (State Trial Court)
CW-NY-0004-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abrams, Gary S. (New York)
CW-NY-0004-0001
Falls, Raymond L. Jr. (New York)
CW-NY-0004-0001
Hayes, Robert M. (New York)
CW-NY-0004-0001
Weintraub, Ellen L. (New York)
CW-NY-0004-0001
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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