on February 19, 1980, the mother of a mentally disabled boy and his fosters parents filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. The child was autistic and suffered from epileptic seizures. The plaintiffs filed this case to protest the Kentucky Department for Human Resources violation of the Constitution and various state and federal statutes in the course of their administration of federally funded programs which provided benefits and services to children and families. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants failed to provide the plaintiffs a meaningful opportunity to be heard on grievances which arose from the defendants' operation of child welfare programs. The plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief, along with individual compensatory damages and attorneys fees.
Because the mother and her son were disabled, it had become increasingly difficult for the mother to properly care for her son. When she sought social services, the Department failed to arrange medical treatment for Timmy's seizures or out-of-home placement. The Department explained that no such placement could be found. The mother consulted a private treatment center for handicapped children and with its help found an out-of-home placement with the foster parents, who were also plaintiffs in this suit. The mother had a strong desire to have her child placed with these foster parents as they had a strong record of having looked after disabled children in the past. After he was placed with the foster parents, the Department did not provide the foster parents with the funds or services to which they were entitled as foster parents.
On March 14, 1980, the Department moved to dismiss the complaint arguing, in pertinent part, that foster parents do not have a right to a due process hearing. On September 15, 1981, the district court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss. The court also declined to rule on the plaintiff's motion for class certification citing an insufficient factual foundation to make the determination. 537 F.Supp. 39 (E.D. Ky. 1981).
On June 3, 1985, plaintiffs moved to amend the complaint by adding several named children and foster parents as plaintiffs. At the same time, plaintiffs renewed their motion for class certification. The district court denied these motions on August 30, 1988. The court reasoned that class certification was unnecessary because injunctive relief would remedy the issues faced by everyone in the proposed class.
On April 11, 1986, plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment, arguing, in part, that foster parents have a right to due process hearings under the Fourteenth Amendment and the Act. In opposition to the plaintiffs' motion, the Department submitted its administrative hearing procedures and argued that foster parents do not have a due process right to a hearing, therefore, administrative hearings are not permitted on the basis of the foster parents' complaints
On September 7, 1989, the district court the district court granted the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment insofar as it sought to declare that foster parents have a due process right to an administrative hearing. The court enjoined the defendants from excluding foster parents, such as the plaintiffs in this case, from its administrative hearing procedures. The defendants appealed to the Sixth Circuit.
On July 25, 1990, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment. 916 F.2d 312, 317 (6th Cir. 1990).
Subsequently, the plaintiffs petitioned for an award of attorney's fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988. The magistrate judge recommended that the district court find that the plaintiffs were “prevailing parties” and entitled attorney's fees. However, the district court denied an award of attorney's fees to the child and his biological mother but awarded attorney's fees to the foster parents. The the plaintiffs sought reconsideration of the district court's order and the Department filed a motion to alter or amend the district court's order; both were denied. Both parties appeals to the Sixth Circuit.
On November 29, 1993, The Sixth Circuit (Judge Wilfort) affirmed the order of the district court decision awarding the foster parents’ attorney's fees and denying CHR's Rule 60(b)(5) motion requesting relief from judgment. 12 F.3d 214 (6th Cir. 1993).
On May 2, 1994, the district court (Judge Jennifer B. Coffman) granted the plaintiffs' motion for $6,700 more in attorney's fees. The court also dismissed the case and there are no further entries on the docket. Soojin Cha - 02/25/2016