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Case Name Angela R. v. Clinton CW-AR-0001
Docket / Court 91-415 ( E.D. Ark. )
State/Territory Arkansas
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Attorney Organization National Center for Youth Law
Case Summary
Plaintiffs, represented by the National Center for Youth Law, Central Arkansas Legal Services, and Ozark Legal Serices, brought this class action suit in 1991, in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, against the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). Plaintiffs ... read more >
Plaintiffs, represented by the National Center for Youth Law, Central Arkansas Legal Services, and Ozark Legal Serices, brought this class action suit in 1991, in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, against the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). Plaintiffs complained that DHS child welfare programs failed to investigate complaints of abuse and neglect, to make reasonable efforts to keep families together, to provide adequate care to children in foster homes, and to train foster parents. Plaintiffs alleged that these failures were in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. §§ 620-28, 670-79; and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), 42 U.S.C. § 5101-06.

In 1991, the District Court certified a class consisting of all children who, since July 1, 1988, were known to DHS by reason of a complaint of abuse or neglect, and all children who are in the custody of DHS as the result of emergency 72-hour placement or an abuse, neglect, or Family In Needs of Services (FINS) petition.

On February 27, 1992, after months of negotiation, the parties filed a joint motion for a proposed settlement. The same day, the Governor signed into law Act One of the First Extraordinary Session of 1992, which adopted the Arkansas Child Welfare Reform Document, a detailed plain governing defendants' operation of DHS in all major areas addressed by the plaintiffs' complaint. Act One also provided funds necessary to execute the Arkansas Child Welfare Reform Document.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Suter v. Artist M, 503 U.S. 347 (1992) holding that the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act did not create a private cause of action. In response, the state defendants in this case subsequently filed a motion suggesting that the District Court did not have jurisdiction over the claims of the plaintiffs. The District Court denied the motion and ordered entry of the proposed settlement as a consent decree. The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the District Court had valid jurisdiction, but it vacated the consent decree because of its ambiguous enforcement provisions. Angela R. v. Clinton, 999 F.2d 320 (1993).

On remand, the parties jointly filed a motion for approval of a settlement agreement in fall 1994, and to dismiss the case except for enforcement of that agreement. The settlement agreement provided a five-year implementation period to address child protective services, family preservation services, least restrictive possible placements, sibling unification, resources for foster families, health care for foster children, and caseworker caseloads. Upon the five-year period expiration in 1999, the parties amended the settlement agreement to extend the jurisdiction of the Court over enforcement of the settlement until December 31, 2001. The case then ended.

In 2004, a non-party moved to reinstate the settlement agreement, contending that parents possessed documentation that would have prevented the initial settlement of the case. The District Court dismissed the motion as untimely and lacking standing.

Elizabeth Homan - 11/25/2012


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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
Auditing
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Adoption
Classification / placement
Counseling
Emergency shelter
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Family abuse and neglect
Family reunification
Foster care (benefits, training)
Juveniles
Parents (visitation, involvement)
Placement in shelters
Siblings (visitation, placement)
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Timeliness of case assignment
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5101 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.
Defendant(s) Arkansas Department of Human Services
Plaintiff Description All children who, since July 1, 1988, are known to the Arkansas Department of Health Services (DHS) by reason of a complain of abuse or neglect, and all children who are in the custody of DHS as the result of emergency 72-hour placement or an abuse, neglect, or Family In Needs of Services (FINS) petition.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations National Center for Youth Law
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 1994 - 2001
Case Closing Year 2001
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)
4:91-cv-00415-GH (E.D. Ark.) 02/27/2004
CW-AR-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion (8th Cir.) 07/13/1993 (999 F.2d 320)
CW-AR-0001-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | External Link | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order of Dismissal and Approval of Settlement 10/13/1994 (E.D. Ark.)
CW-AR-0001-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Defendant or Defendant's Counsel
Amended Order of Dismissal and Approval of Amended Settlement Agreement 08/31/1999 (E.D. Ark.)
CW-AR-0001-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Order of Dismissal and Enforcement of Amended Settlement Agreement 10/25/2001 (E.D. Ark.)
CW-AR-0001-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 02/20/2002 (E.D. Ark.)
CW-AR-0001-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 02/26/2004 (E.D. Ark.)
CW-AR-0001-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Howard, George Jr. (E.D. Ark., W.D. Ark.)
CW-AR-0001-0001 | CW-AR-0001-0002 | CW-AR-0001-0003 | CW-AR-0001-0004 | CW-AR-0001-0005 | CW-AR-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Grimm, William L. (California)
CW-AR-0001-0002 | CW-AR-0001-0004
Kaplan, Philip E. (Arkansas)
CW-AR-0001-0001
Matthews, Martha (California)
CW-AR-0001-0002
McIvor, Marcia L. (Arkansas)
CW-AR-0001-9000
Pearl, Richard M (California)
CW-AR-0001-9000
Stockley, Griffin J. (Arkansas)
CW-AR-0001-0004 | CW-AR-0001-9000
Teague, Mona J. (Arkansas)
CW-AR-0001-0004 | CW-AR-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Hopkins, Breck G. (Arkansas)
CW-AR-0001-0001 | CW-AR-0001-0002 | CW-AR-0001-9000
Hurlbut, Bruce Paul (Arkansas)
CW-AR-0001-9000
Jegley, Angela S. (Arkansas)
CW-AR-0001-0004 | CW-AR-0001-9000
McGee, Elisabeth M. (Arkansas)
CW-AR-0001-9000
Nye, Debby Thetford (Arkansas)
CW-AR-0001-0004 | CW-AR-0001-9000
Stallcup, Mary B. (Arkansas)
CW-AR-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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