University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Daratsakis v. Smith JI-NY-0002
Docket / Court 76-3218 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On July 20, 1976, children placed at the Children's Center in New York City filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the director of the Children's Center, along with administrators and the assistant ... read more >
On July 20, 1976, children placed at the Children's Center in New York City filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the director of the Children's Center, along with administrators and the assistant commissioner of the Department of Social Services. The class consisted of children who were placed at or were subject to placement at the Children's Center. The Legal Aid Society of the City of New York, Juvenile Rights Division represented the class. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the conditions at the Children's Center constituted cruel and unusual punishment, violated the right to be free from harm, violated the guarantee of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, and violated various state statutes.

Children placed at the Children's Center were subjected to violent assaults, forced homosexual behavior, rapes, fights and beatings with knives, sticks, chains, glass and other weapons. The staff was inadequate to meet the needs of the children. The general opinion was that the Children's Center needed to be closed; several of the defendants had made public statements to the effect that the facility should be closed.

An interim consent order was entered by the District Court (Judge William C. Conner) on July 30, 1976. The consent order provided that the defendants were required to close the Children's Center on or before July 31, 1977, to use their best efforts to place the children who were or would be residents of the Children's Center in their own homes or in suitable alternative facilities and homes, and to place any mentally retarded residents in suitable "off-city-bill" facilities within two weeks of the order, or two weeks of their placement in the Children's Center. Furthermore, the consent order provided that the Children's Center not exceed a population of 50, that at least one staff member be present in all spaces when more than one resident is present, that all staff members be awake at all times while they are on duty, that doors be affixed on toilet stalls and curtains on bath and shower stalls, and that no more than six children be placed in a room. The Legal Aid Society was to be given access to the facility, and to the records for children residing at the Children's Center.

The only information we have on this case is the complaint and the interim consent order.

Kaitlin Corkran - 05/22/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Crowding
Pre-PLRA Population Cap
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Loss or damage to property
Recreation / Exercise
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Department of Social Services of the City of New York
Plaintiff Description children placed at the Children's Center in New York City
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
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 1976 - 1977
Case Closing Year 1977
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Complaint & Summons 07/20/1976
JI-NY-0002-0002 PDF | Detail
Interim Consent Order 07/30/1976 (S.D.N.Y.)
JI-NY-0002-0001 PDF | Detail
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dale, Michael J. (New York)
JI-NY-0002-0002
Mechanic, Gene B. (New York)
JI-NY-0002-0002
Schinitsky, Charles (New York)
JI-NY-0002-0002
Defendant's Lawyers None on record
Other Lawyers None on record

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