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Case Name M.D. v. Perry CW-TX-0001
Docket / Court 2:11-cv-00084 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization Children's Rights, Inc.
Case Summary
This class action involving long-term foster care in Texas was filed on March 29, 2011, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The plaintiff class of children in long-term foster care was represented by private counsel and Children's Rights, Inc.; they sought declaratory and ... read more >
This class action involving long-term foster care in Texas was filed on March 29, 2011, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The plaintiff class of children in long-term foster care was represented by private counsel and Children's Rights, Inc.; they sought declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that the state failed to protect foster children from systemic harm.

The complaint alleged that defendants' frequent moves of the foster care children between placements was harmful; that the state placed kids in inappropriate congregate settings, failed to protect them from abuse and neglect in state custody, denied them necessary services, separated them unnecessarily from their siblings and deprived them of family visitation, and generally failed to find them permanent families or to raise them appropriately so that they were equipped to live independently once they aged out of foster care. All this, the plaintiffs said, was due to understaffing and mismanagement, and violated Substantive Due Process, Procedural Due Process, and the First Amendment associational rights of the plaintiff class.

The requested relief included regulation of caseloads, imposition of professional licensing standards, and the like. The plaintiffs also sought appointment of a monitor.

The plaintiffs filed their class certification motion a week after the complaint. On June 5, 2011, the District Court (Judge Janis Graham Jack) granted the motion for class certification. The state appealed.

On March 23, 2012, citing the intervening Supreme Court precedent of Wal-Mart v. Dukes, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Garza, J.) held that the district court had erred by failing to conduct the "rigorous analysis" required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(2), and that the district court abused its discretion by certifying a class that lacked cohesiveness under Rule 23(b)(2). The case was remanded for reconsideration of the class application under the appropriate standard. 675 F.3d 832 (5th Cir. 2012).

The plaintiffs filed a second motion for class certification in October 2012. After a three-day hearing in January 2013, the Court found that the requirements of Rule 23(a), as explained in Dukes, were satisfied. On August 27, 2013, the court certified a general class (all children in the "permanent managing conservatorship" in Texas) and three subclasses (children in a licensed foster care placement; children in foster group homes; and children receiving basic childcare services). 294 F.R.D. 7 (S.D.Tex.2013). The defendants appealed, but the Fifth Circuit dismissed their appeal as untimely on November 19, 2013, because the defendants filed a day too late. 547 F. App'x 543 (5th Cir. 2013).

The case proceeded to trial in December 2014. For two weeks, the parties presented evidence to the district court. Following the trial, on December 17, 2015, the district court ruled for the plaintiffs, declaring that Texas must make targeted changes to its foster care system. The court found that the state put kids at risk because of high caseloads, dangerous foster group homes, inadequate investigations into abuse and neglect reports and a lack of placement options. The court mandated an immediate end to the "unsafe placement" of children, including ceasing assigning children to foster group homes that lacked 24-hour awake-night supervision. The court retained jurisdiction to issue orders as necessary to remedy the constitutional violations described in the order and opinion. 2015 WL 9244873 (S.D. Tex. Dec. 17, 2015).

The State asked the court to stay the order, but the court denied this request. The state appealed to the Fifth Circuit, which also denied the state's request on March 21, 2016.

Also on March 21, 2016, the district court appointed two experts as special masters, charged with overseeing the reform of Texas' foster care system. Reform is ongoing as of April 19, 2016.

Alice Liu - 09/27/2012
Jessica Kincaid - 04/19/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Adoption
Classification / placement
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Family abuse and neglect
Foster care (benefits, training)
Juveniles
Neglect by staff
Payment for care
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Relative caretakers
Siblings (visitation, placement)
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Visiting
Wait lists
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Department of Family and Protective Services of the State of Texas
Governor of Texas
Health and Human Services Commission of the State of Texas
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are the class of Texas children in long-term foster care. Subclasses involve kids in licensed foster care, foster group homes, larger-scale institutions, and in kinship foster care.
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 Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2015 - 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)
2:11−cv−00084 (S.D. Tex.) 01/19/2016
CW-TX-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
PLAINTIFFS’ ORIGINAL COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTIVE AND DECLARATORY RELIEF AND REQUEST FOR CLASS ACTION RELIEF AND REQUEST FOR CLASS ACTION 03/29/2011
CW-TX-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION AND APPOINTMENT OF CLASS COUNSEL AND MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN SUPPORT 04/05/2011
CW-TX-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 06/02/2011 (2011 WL 2173673 / 2011 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 59453) (S.D. Tex.)
CW-TX-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER 07/01/2011 (799 F.Supp.2d 712) (S.D. Tex.)
CW-TX-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas 03/23/2012 (675 F.3d 832)
CW-TX-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFFS’ AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTIVE AND DECLARATORY RELIEF AND REQUEST FOR CLASS ACTION 06/01/2012
CW-TX-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment 06/14/2012
CW-TX-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Bill of Costs 06/14/2012
CW-TX-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Fourth Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and Request for Class Action 05/09/2013
CW-TX-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Corrected Fourth Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and Request for Class Action 05/24/2013
CW-TX-0001-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 08/27/2013 (294 F.R.D. 7) (S.D. Tex.)
CW-TX-0001-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Bloomberg Law
Agreed Order Granting Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the Claims of the Proposed Unverified Kinship Subclass 11/19/2013 (S.D. Tex.)
CW-TX-0001-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 11/19/2013 (547 Fed.Appx. 543)
CW-TX-0001-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Petition for Permission to Appeal under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23 (f) 11/25/2013
CW-TX-0001-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Pretrial Order 11/14/2014 (S.D. Tex.)
CW-TX-0001-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Verdict of the Court 12/17/2015 (2015 WL 9244873) (S.D. Tex.)
CW-TX-0001-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Appointment Order 03/21/2016 (S.D. Tex.)
CW-TX-0001-0017.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 03/21/2016
CW-TX-0001-0018.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Jack, Janis Graham (S.D. Tex.)
CW-TX-0001-0005 | CW-TX-0001-0008 | CW-TX-0001-0010 | CW-TX-0001-0011 | CW-TX-0001-0015 | CW-TX-0001-0017 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters Ryan, Kevin M. (New Jersey)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Almonrode, Patrick S. (New York)
CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Barber, Philip (New York)
CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Bartosz, Michael [Sara Michelle] K. (New York)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Behrens, R. Thaddeus (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0001 | CW-TX-0001-0002 | CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Bell, Patricia C. (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0001 | CW-TX-0001-0002 | CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Canales, Hector (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0001 | CW-TX-0001-0002 | CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Canales, J. A. (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0001 | CW-TX-0001-0002 | CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0009 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Cardenas, Amelia J. (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0001 | CW-TX-0001-0002 | CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Circelli, Vincent Paul (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Cohen, Melissa A. (New York)
CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Dembrow, Adam C. (New York)
CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Dixon, Stephen (New York)
CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Dodds, David Allen (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Farris, April L. (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Finch, Aaron Hirsh (New York)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Goldman, Dori K. (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0001 | CW-TX-0001-0002 | CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Kapell, William (New York)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York)
CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0009 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-0013 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Luciano, Adriana Teresa (New York)
CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Lustbader, Ira P. (New York)
CW-TX-0001-9000
McNeil, Barry F. (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0001 | CW-TX-0001-0002 | CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0009 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Nili, Rachel Brodin (New York)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Pitman, Elizabeth (New York)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Polansky, Jessica E. (New York)
CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Porter, Christopher D. (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0001 | CW-TX-0001-0002 | CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Rosenthal, Joshua M. (New York)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Russo, Sarah (New York)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Sohmer, Olivia (New York)
CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Wilson, Christina (New York)
CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Yetter, R. Paul (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0001 | CW-TX-0001-0002 | CW-TX-0001-0003 | CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-0009 | CW-TX-0001-0012 | CW-TX-0001-0015 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Albright, Thomas A. (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0013 | CW-TX-0001-0015 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Eccles, James B. (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Gibson, Darren Glenn (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Rietvelt, Marc (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Stephens, Andrew Bowman (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Sullivan, James P. (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-9000
Todd, James Carlton (Texas)
CW-TX-0001-0007 | CW-TX-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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