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Case Name Clark v. Astrue PB-NY-0015
Docket / Court 1:06CV15521 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Case Summary
On December 28, 2006, five individuals represented by private counsel, the Urban Justice Center, and the National Senior Citizens Law Center filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that the Social Security Administration’s policy of ... read more >
On December 28, 2006, five individuals represented by private counsel, the Urban Justice Center, and the National Senior Citizens Law Center filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that the Social Security Administration’s policy of unlawfully suspending or denying benefits to persons who were found to have outstanding warrants for an alleged violation of a probation or parole condition violates the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 402(x)(1)(A)(v) and 1382(e)(4)(A)(ii), and 20 C.F.R. §1339(b).

Plaintiffs claimed that the SSA failed to inquire into the facts of individual cases or verify the individuals named in warrants were in fact those whose benefits were suspended or denied. Instead, the SSA relied on a computer matching program used by the Social Security Administration, which lacked the capabilities to accurately identify whether the individual had in fact committed a violation. Additionally, Plaintiffs argued that the SSA was unlawfully denying or suspending benefits to individuals without any regard to whether or not there has been a judicial finding that the individual had in fact committed such a violation. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, class certification, and an award of attorneys’ fees and costs.

On February 26, 2007, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Judge Sidney Stein) denied the Plaintiffs’ request for temporary restraining order and on March 8, 2007, denied the motion for preliminary injunction, finding that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits. On September 22, 2008, the court (Judge Stein) granted SSA’s motion for summary judgment, and denied plaintiffs’ cross-motion for summary judgment, and the case was closed.

Plaintiffs appealed, and on March 19, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed, holding that the "SSA’s practice of treating a warrant alleging that a recipient is violating a condition of probation or parole as sufficient and irrebuttable evidence that the recipient is in fact violating a condition of probation or parole is inconsistent with the plain meaning of the Social Security Act." The Second Circuit vacated the District Court’s grant of summary judgment for Defendant and its denial of summary judgment for Plaintiffs and remanded for further proceedings.

On March 18, 2011, the court certified a nationwide class consisting of "[a]ll persons nationwide whose SSI and/or OASDI benefits were denied and/or suspended based solely on the existence of a warrant for an alleged violation of probation or parole during the period from October 29, 2006 to and including such time in the future when final relief is entered in this action."

In April 2012, the court granted injunctive relief; it enjoined the challenged practice going forward; restored to SSA's roles the members of the class (who could number up to 140,000 people), pending hearings on their ongoing eligibility; and ordered their inappropriately suspended benefits to be paid to them. According to the National Senior Citizens Law Center, this could require payment of back-benefits of up to $1 billion. The Court gave the SSA 60 days to propose an implementation plan.

- 03/27/2011


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
Social Security Retirement and Death Benefit
SSI
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action None on record
Defendant(s) Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
Plaintiff Description Social Security benefits holders whose benefits were denied because of warrants or violations of probation.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Private Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement
Order Duration 2012 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:06-cv-15521 (S.D.N.Y.) 06/12/2012
PB-NY-0015-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 12/28/2006
PB-NY-0015-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (denying plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction) 03/08/2007 (2007 WL 737489) (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0015-0004 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (granting defendant's motion for summary judgment) 09/22/2008 (2008 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 74399) (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0015-0002 PDF | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion (2nd Cir.) 03/19/2010 (602 F.3d 140)
PB-NY-0015-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
Opinion and Order (certifying class) 03/18/2011 (274 F.R.D. 462) (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0015-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 04/13/2012 (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0015-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Calabresi, Guido (Second Circuit)
PB-NY-0015-0001
Katzmann, Robert A. (Second Circuit)
PB-NY-0015-0001
Newman, Jon Ormond (D. Conn., Second Circuit)
PB-NY-0015-0001
Stein, Sidney H. (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0015-0002 | PB-NY-0015-0004 | PB-NY-0015-0005 | PB-NY-0015-0006 | PB-NY-0015-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hirschhorn, Russell L. (New York)
PB-NY-0015-0003
McIntyre, Gerald Andrew (California)
PB-NY-0015-9000
Obus, Steven E. (New York)
PB-NY-0015-0001 | PB-NY-0015-0002 | PB-NY-0015-0003 | PB-NY-0015-9000
Parish, Jennifer J. (New York)
PB-NY-0015-9000
Plevan, Bettina Barasch (New York)
PB-NY-0015-0002 | PB-NY-0015-0003 | PB-NY-0015-9000
Rauch, Brian (New York)
PB-NY-0015-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Cenawood, Sean Chance (New York)
PB-NY-0015-0002 | PB-NY-0015-9000
Gura, John E. Jr. (New York)
PB-NY-0015-0001
Other Lawyers Callery, Catherine M. (New York)
PB-NY-0015-0001

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