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Case Name D.G. v. Henry CW-OK-0001
Docket / Court 4:08-cv-00074-GKF-FHM ( N.D. Okla. )
State/Territory Oklahoma
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Attorney Organization Children's Rights, Inc.
Case Summary
The plaintiffs, represented by Children's Rights, filed this class action suit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) in February 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. The complaint alleged violations of the First, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth ... read more >
The plaintiffs, represented by Children's Rights, filed this class action suit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) in February 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. The complaint alleged violations of the First, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., and the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, 42 U.S.C. § 670 et seq., and Oklahoma state law. The complaint alleged that DHS placed children in dangerous and inappropriate placements including extended stays in emergency shelters; failed to monitor the safety of children in DHS custody due to excessive case worker caseloads; failed to provide mental health and other behavioral services; and failed to provide legal representation.

In April 2008, the defendants moved to dismiss the case and several Oklahoma based children's agencies filed amici curiae briefs in response. In January 2009, Judge Gregory K. Frizzell granted the motion to dismiss claims under federal common law and the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, but denied the other claims of the defendants' in their motions to dismiss. See D.G. v. Henry, 594 F. Supp. 2d 1273 (N.D. Okl. 2009).

On May 5, 2009, the court certified the class of the plaintiffs as all children who are or will be in the legal custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (1) due to a report or suspicion of abuse or neglect; or (2) who are or will be adjudicated deprived due to abuse or neglect. The defendants appealed the ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, but in February 2010, the appellate court upheld the class certification.

The parties then engaged in extensive and contested discovery. The plaintiffs provided five expert reports and filed numerous motions to compel the defendants to produce various items. The defendants again moved to dismiss the case and to decertify the class. In November and December 2011, the court denied the motion to decertify and granted the motions to dismiss only as to claims pertaining to rights of familial association and procedural due process. The case proceeded towards a trial scheduled for February 2012.

Meanwhile, the parties engaged in court-supervised settlement conferences, so that by January 2012, they negotiated an agreement providing for structural reorganization of DHS and appointed experts to oversee the development and implementation of the settlement agreement. After a series of fairness hearings, the court approved the settlement on February 29, 2012. The parties are still litigating the award of attorney's fees and expenses.

The settlement agreement implementation plans provided that the defendant DHS would restructure its agency; improve screening, investigating, and reporting of abuse in case; reduce the use of emergency shelters; and reduce workloads and improve training for caseworkers. The implementation of the settlement agreement would take at least five years. Additionally, on March 31, 2013, the Court ordered the defendants to pay attorneys' fees and expenses in the amount of about $6 million.

Elizabeth Homan - 12/21/2012
Katherine Reineck - 01/30/2016


compress summary

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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
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Goals and Timekeeping
Hire
Monitor/Master
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Adoption
Classification / placement
Counseling
Emergency shelter
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Family reunification
Foster care (benefits, training)
Funding
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Individualized planning
Juveniles
Neglect by staff
Parents (visitation, involvement)
Placement in shelters
Siblings (visitation, placement)
Special education
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Timeliness of case assignment
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA), 42 U.S.C. § 620 et seq.
Adoption Assistance Program, 42 U.S.C. § 670 et seq.
Defendant(s) Oklahoma
Plaintiff Description The class of plaintiffs includes all children who are or will be in the legal custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (1) due to a report or suspicion of abuse or neglect; or (2) who are or will be adjudicated deprived due to abuse or neglect.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations 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 Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2012 - 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)
4:08-cv-74 (N.D. Okla.) 05/06/2013
CW-OK-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and Request for Class Action 02/13/2008
CW-OK-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Opinion and Order 12/11/2008 (591 F.Supp.2d 1186) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order 01/19/2009 (594 F.Supp.2d 1273) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Opinion and Order 02/20/2009 (2009 WL 455266) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order 04/15/2009 (2009 WL 1011595) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Reporter's Transcript of Proceedings 05/05/2009
CW-OK-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Opinion and Order from the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit 02/08/2010 (594 F.3d 1188)
CW-OK-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
RE: 09-5093, DG, et al v. DeVaughn, et al 03/02/2010
CW-OK-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 03/24/2010 (2010 WL 1257583) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order 03/24/2010 (2010 WL 1257621) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0014.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order 05/21/2010 (2010 WL 2079710) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order 12/21/2010 (2010 WL 5387839) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0016.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order 03/23/2011 (2011 WL 1104091) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order 04/08/2011 (2011 WL 1344200) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0018.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order 07/13/2011 (2011 WL 2746180) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0019.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order 07/15/2011 (2011 WL 2881461) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0020.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order 11/15/2011 (278 F.R.D. 635) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 11/23/2011 (2011 WL 5904660) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0021.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order 12/01/2011 (2011 WL 6009628) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 12/16/2011 (2011 WL 6960613) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0022.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Compromise and Settlement Agreement 01/04/2012
CW-OK-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Final Order Approving Compromise and Settlement Agreement 02/29/2012 (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 03/31/2013 (2013 WL 1343151) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0024.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment 04/17/2013 (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0023.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Co-Neutral Commentary Two - Compromise and Settlement Agreement 04/01/2014
CW-OK-0001-0025.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Co-Neutral Commentary Four - Compromise and Settlement Agreement 04/01/2015
CW-OK-0001-0026.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Judges Frizzell, Gregory Kent (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0004 | CW-OK-0001-0006 | CW-OK-0001-0008 | CW-OK-0001-0009 | CW-OK-0001-0010 | CW-OK-0001-0012 | CW-OK-0001-0017 | CW-OK-0001-0022 | CW-OK-0001-0023 | CW-OK-0001-0024 | CW-OK-0001-9000
McCarthy, Frank H. (N.D. Okla.) [Magistrate]
CW-OK-0001-0011 | CW-OK-0001-0013 | CW-OK-0001-0014 | CW-OK-0001-0015 | CW-OK-0001-0016 | CW-OK-0001-0018 | CW-OK-0001-0019 | CW-OK-0001-0020 | CW-OK-0001-0021 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Siler, Eugene Edward Jr. (W.D. Ky., Sixth Circuit, E.D. Ky.)
CW-OK-0001-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Almonrode, Patrick S. (New York)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Barber, Philip (New York)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Bauer, Andrew B. (New York)
CW-OK-0001-0003 | CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Beckman, Mark A. (New York)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Borten, Laurence D. (New York)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Cahalan, John S. (New York)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Day, Bruce (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
DeMuro, Paul (Ohio)
CW-OK-0001-0003 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Dorwart, Frederic (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-0001 | CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Edwards, Joe (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-0003 | CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Fontaine, R. Nadine (New York)
CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Frei-Pearson, Jeremiah (New York)
CW-OK-0001-0003 | CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Geraci, Phil A. (New York)
CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Graham, Scott Alan (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Grewal-Kok, Yasmin (New York)
CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Henek, Carly (New York)
CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Ingber, Miriam F. (New York)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Kapell, William (New York)
CW-OK-0001-0003 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Lambiase, Susan (New York)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Lewis, G. Michael (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York)
CW-OK-0001-0001 | CW-OK-0001-0003 | CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Lustbader, Ira P. (New York)
CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Miller, Jodi Kim (New York)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Russo, Sarah (New York)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Seymour, R. Thomas (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-0005 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Vicari, Angela Rosalee (New York)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Wiltsek, Gena E. (New York)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Askew, Thomas Martin (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Barnett, Elizabeth (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-0001
Bingham, Donald Mitchell (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Boughton, Scott David (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Cortes, Stephen (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
DeSimone, Donna M. (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-0003 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Everest, Tricia Louise (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Freeman, Richard Weldon Jr. (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Garren, Richard T. (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Gentry, Dorothy Sharon (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Hall, Melvin Curtis (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Hillerman, Holly M. (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Koepsel, Kristopher Edward (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
LaBauve, Elizabeth Barnett (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Mensching, John Patrick Jr. (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Meyers, D. Kent (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Nance, Robert A. (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-0003 | CW-OK-0001-9000
O'Leary, Catherine A. (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-0003 | CW-OK-0001-9000
Page, David Phillip (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Resetaritz, Richard Alan (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Skeith, Robert P. (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Strealy, Joseph W. (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Theban, Stephanie L. (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Walters, Joseph (Oklahoma)
CW-OK-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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