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Case Name S.W. v. City of New York CW-NY-0008
Docket / Court 09-cv-1777 ( E.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Attorney Organization Children's Rights, Inc.
Case Summary
On April 29, 2009, nine former foster children with special needs sued The City of New York and four private foster care agencies in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The plaintiffs asserted a § 1983 claim for violation of their substantive due process rights and asserted ... read more >
On April 29, 2009, nine former foster children with special needs sued The City of New York and four private foster care agencies in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The plaintiffs asserted a § 1983 claim for violation of their substantive due process rights and asserted a state law claim for negligence for allowing a foster parent family to fraudulently obtain foster care custody of children, later adopt them, and subject them to abuse, neglect, torture, imprisonment, and deprivation of educational and medical care over course of more than 15 years.

From 1986 to 1994, the plaintiffs were all classified as special needs children by the agency, and were removed from their homes and placed in the custody of the City. The agency defendants were private child care agencies that provide foster care placement and other services for children in the custody of the City, pursuant to contracts with the City. During this time, the private individual defendant, using at least four false identities, obtained foster care custody of plaintiffs and numerous other special needs children from the City and the agency defendants. She subsequently adopted each plaintiff. As was later revealed, the defendant launched this scheme in order to collect subsidies provided by the City for the fostering and adoption of special needs children, which she used for her own purposes while neglecting to care for the plaintiffs. In 1998, the defendant transported the plaintiffs from New York to Florida, where she relocated them in various houses over the following years.

With the exception of one child, who left the house in which they lived sometime between May 2004 and May 2005, the plaintiffs remained with the defendant until July 2007, when Florida authorities searched the house in which they were then residing, discovered and removed the plaintiffs, and arrested the defendant. From the point when the defendant obtained custody of the plaintiffs until they were released, the defendant abused, tortured, neglected, and held the plaintiffs in captivity, first in New York and then in Florida.

In 2012, the Court approved a settlement between all ten plaintiffs and the City, and the city agreed to pay the plaintiffs $9.7 million. ("2012 Settlement"). (12/19/2012). Per the settlement, the City denied all allegation of wrongful conduct or liability and the plaintiffs agreed to fully and forever release any causes of action on claims arising from the action. Payment of the settlement was arranged to be made monthly for life, guaranteed for 30 years, beginning on 3/1/2013, with the last guaranteed payment on 2/1/2043.

Following continued and extensive litigation, the remaining defendants moved for summary judgment. On January 17, 2014, the Court dismissed the claims against the foster agencies brought by the plaintiffs, L.J. and J.G. but the court denied the motion as to the claims of all other plaintiffs. 46 F.Supp.3d 176 (2014).

On June 13, 2014, those seven plaintiffs and the private foster care agencies reached a settlement through mediation. ("2014 Settlement") (settlement document is not available as of 3/31/2016). On September 19, 2014, the court found that the June 2014 settlement was fair and was of the best interest of the incapacitated plaintiffs. The court also ordered that the settlement funds and approved fees and costs, would be paid to the plaintiffs directly or to the structured settlement funds or special needs trusts to be established. Court referred the parties to Magistrate Judge Go to determine the remaining costs sought by the plaintiffs' counsel.

In October 2014, the plaintiff's counsel reduced the costs by $280,354 or by 13.6%. In July 2015, the court ordered the adjusted costs in escrow be disbursed to plaintiffs' counsel and that the remainder continue to be held by the plaintiffs' counsel in escrow pending approval by the Court.

There is also a current pending state court suit between the defendants and their insurer. The defendants have moved in federal court to stay this action in deference to the state court. This motion is still pending as of April 7, 2016.

Soojin Cha - 04/10/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
General
Foster care (benefits, training)
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of New York
Heartshare Human Services
SCO Family of Services
St. Joseph Services for Children, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Nine former foster children with special needs.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Children's Rights, Inc.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief 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)
1:09-cv-1777 (E.D.N.Y.) 02/18/2016
CW-NY-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 04/29/2009
CW-NY-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 06/04/2010 (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order of Discontinuance 10/08/2010 (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 11/17/2010 (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 11/18/2010 (2010 WL 4791712) (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Bloomberg Law
Order 12/15/2010 (2010 WL 5185141) (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Bloomberg Law
Order 06/03/2011 (2011 WL 2224976) (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Bloomberg Law
Opinion 07/25/2011 (2011 WL 3038776) (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0018.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum & Order 04/02/2012 (2012 WL 1100906) (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Settlement Release and Indemnity Agreement 12/06/2012
CW-NY-0008-0019.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order 12/18/2012 (2012 WL 6625879) (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Minute Entry and Order [for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge] 02/12/2013 (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Minute entry and order [for proceedings held before Magistrate Judge] 08/08/2013 (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order 01/28/2014 (46 F.Supp.3d 176) (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Letter Requesting Briefing Schedule For Proposed Petition For Interlocutory Appeal 02/05/2014
CW-NY-0008-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [re 490 Motion for Settlement] 09/19/2014 (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Amended Motion to Approve Costs 10/02/2014
CW-NY-0008-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [re 496 Amended Motion to Amend/Correct/Supplement to Approve Costs] 07/06/2015 (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter on Motion to Stay Federal Court Action in Deference to the State Court Action (Re: National Union Fire Insurance co. v. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, the City of New York, et al., Supreme Court of New York). 02/18/2016
CW-NY-0008-0017.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Go, Marilyn D. (E.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
CW-NY-0008-0002 | CW-NY-0008-0004 | CW-NY-0008-0005 | CW-NY-0008-0006 | CW-NY-0008-0007 | CW-NY-0008-0009 | CW-NY-0008-0010 | CW-NY-0008-0013 | CW-NY-0008-0018
Vitaliano, Eric Nicholas (E.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0008-0003 | CW-NY-0008-0008 | CW-NY-0008-0012 | CW-NY-0008-0014 | CW-NY-0008-0015 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Babbitt, Theodore (Florida)
CW-NY-0008-0001 | CW-NY-0008-0016 | CW-NY-0008-0019 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Cohen, Melissa A. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Gaier, Matthew (New York)
CW-NY-0008-0001 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Kapell, William (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Lambiase, Susan (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Le Clainche, Stephan A. (Florida)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Merson, Jordan K. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-0001 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Moore, Thomas A. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-0001 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Nothenberg, Shirim (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Romanelli, Ami (Florida)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Talenfeld, Howard M. (Florida)
CW-NY-0008-0001 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Walsh, John (Florida)
CW-NY-0008-0001 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ahmuty, Steven J. Jr. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Bienstock, Craig Garrett (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Boccio, Robert (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Brennan, Kevin J. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Capowski, Timothy Robert (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Catalano, Thomas A. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Citrin, Marc J. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Cohen, Judd (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Covitt, Adam S. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Delmond, Robert Scott (New York)
CW-NY-0008-0003 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Eniclerico, Richard (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Fihma, Allison Naomi (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Gallagher, Margo O'Donnell (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Gonzalez, Juan C. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Hackworth, Thaddeus Jeremiah (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Jack, Cheryl (Washington)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Kelly, Matthew James (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Kutner, Charles E. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-0003 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Morales, Ralph Vincent (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Nagassar/Asman, Ishmattie (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Ortiz, Robert (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Paterniti, John D. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Rosof, Jeremy S. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-0011 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Rubin, Steven I. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Schaerf, Carl Judah (New York)
CW-NY-0008-0003 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Smith-Valentine, Sonya A. (Maryland)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Spratt, William G. (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Strikowsky, Bruce Michael (New York)
CW-NY-0008-0017 | CW-NY-0008-0019 | CW-NY-0008-9000
Tracey, Deirdre E (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000
Other Lawyers Nandan, Kathleen Anne (New York)
CW-NY-0008-9000

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