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Case Name Juan F. v. Rell JI-CT-0004
Docket / Court 2:89-cv-00859 ( D. Conn. )
State/Territory Connecticut
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Juvenile Institution
Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization (Yale)
Case Summary
This class action brought by children placed in Connecticut's Department of Children and Youth Services (DCYS) was filed on December 19, 1989, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. The plaintiffs were represented by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation and the ... read more >
This class action brought by children placed in Connecticut's Department of Children and Youth Services (DCYS) was filed on December 19, 1989, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. The plaintiffs were represented by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the state to redress deficiencies in the child welfare system, claiming that the state violated the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and the First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

The complaint alleged that the defendants failed to:
  • provide adequate protective services to abused, neglected or at risk children;
  • provide adequate medical care, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, sexual abuse treatment to children in DCYS care;
  • ensure that all children in DCYS care receive appropriate and least restrictive placements;
  • ensure that all reports regarding these children are investigated and responded to promptly by caseworkers;
  • provide sufficient and trained staff;
  • provide adequate records and information systems;
  • make reasonable efforts to keep families together by providing threatened families with reasonable and appropriate services to prevent placement into out-of-home care;
  • provide minimally adequate and appropriate care to all of the children, placed by DCYS, into foster homes or similar settings;
  • move children into adoptive or other permanent homes when reunification is impossible; and
  • develop and implement appropriate case plans that will assure permanent placements for all children in their custody.
On January 7, 1991, the parties reached a settlement agreement mandating broad scale reform. They agreed to, and the Court entered a Consent Decree, which required defendants to:
  • establish a training academy and statewide computerized data system;
  • appoint an advisory board;
  • design and implement a management structure that delineates reporting relationships;
  • establish a health management unit for children under the supervision, care or custody of the department;
  • increase staff by hiring qualified and experienced individuals;
  • establish comprehensive guidelines and regulations to facilitate the uniform intake and investigation of reports of suspected child abuse or neglect;
  • institute standards for treatment, case management, and family training,
  • implement objectives and goals for adoptions,
  • establish regional resource groups for consultations and evaluations;
  • develop procedures to complete Probate Court Ordered Studies within the timeframes specified by state law; and
  • establish a DCYS Monitoring Panel to determine, promulgate, or approve standards and procedures to fulfill the mandates of the Consent Decree, to implement reasonable timetables, and to establish mandatory funding amounts to ensure compliance.
The Consent Decree could be modified, amended, or changed by the trial judge, but only upon the filing of an appropriate motion by any party or the DCYS Monitoring Panel.

On December 19, 1996, the plaintiffs filed a motion for contempt. The defendants admitted to noncompliance and after extended negotiations, agreed in October 2003 to require the monitor to develop a definitive exit plan with specific outcomes, establish a Transition Task Force to assume all decisionmaking authority having substantial impact on the plaintiffs' safety and welfare, establish funds of $1 million for meeting emergency needs of class members, and ensure that the governor would not replace the Commissioner during the term of this order without consulting the monitor first. Shortly thereafter, the monitor developed an exit plan detailing necessary reforms and benchmarks that the defendants were required to meet. This plan was entered as a court order on December 23, 2003. It was modified three years later.

Despite the improvements made by the defendants, the plaintiffs formally complained of noncompliance again on May 5, 2008. Two months later, the plaintiffs withdrew their assertions of noncompliance pursuant to another stipulated agreement, in which the defendant's agreed to comply with the foster-care recruitment and retention plans, administrative case reviews and treatment planning conferences plans, and health-care requirements.

In December 2009, the plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction to prevent the defendants from suspending new intakes to one of their programs, the Voluntary Services Program. In their defense, the defendants claimed that the children receiving treatment or assistance in the program were not members of the plaintiff class. A year later, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, stating that children in the Voluntary Services Program were indeed members of the class. On August 17, 2010, the court granted in part and denied in part the motion for preliminary injunction and motion for permanent injunction. The defendants filed a motion for reconsideration on August 31, 2010, but the court denied the motion four months later. 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135238; 2010 WL 5376224.

In the meantime, while the injunction motion was pending, on April 13, 2010, the defendants sought to vacate the Consent Decree and Exit Plan, claiming that the objectives of the Consent Decree and Exit Plan had been achieved and that factual and legal changes would make continued enforcement unfair. The court denied the defendant’s motion to vacate on September 22, 2010. The court, however, also directed the parties to meet immediately with the court monitor to discuss new methods of evaluating the state's performance. 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99455; 2010 WL 5590094.

For the next seven years, the court monitor periodically provided the court with revised exit plan quarterly reports, which were approved by the court.

As of March 2017, the parties are still working together and the court monitor is still providing the court with quarterly reports. This case is ongoing.

Alice Liu - 02/22/2013
Frances Hollander - 02/21/2016
Susie Choi - 03/15/2017

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Benefit Source
Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Crowding / caseload
Least restrictive environment
Classification / placement
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Family abuse and neglect
Family reunification
Foster care (benefits, training)
Grievance Procedures
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Individualized planning
Neglect by staff
Parents (visitation, involvement)
Placement in mental health facilities
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Timeliness of case assignment
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA), 42 U.S.C. § 620 et seq.
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5101 et seq.
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Defendant(s) Connecticut Department of Children and Families
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are children who are now or will be in the care, custody, or supervision of Connecticut's Department of Children and Youth Services.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization (Yale)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1991 - n/a
Filing Year 1989
Case Ongoing Yes
2:89−cv−00859 (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/18/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint
JI-CT-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/1989
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Consent Decree
JI-CT-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/07/1991
Stipulation [ECF# 447] (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/07/2003
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Adopting Monitor's Exit Plan) [ECF# 454] (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/23/2003
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 467] (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/29/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 471] (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/03/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Revised Exit Plan [ECF# 520]
JI-CT-0004-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/11/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation Regarding Outcome Measures 3 and 15 (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/15/2008
Order of Transfer [ECF# 574] (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/27/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary and Permanent Injunction to Enjoin Defendants from Suspending New Intakes to the Voluntary Services Program [ECF# 585]
JI-CT-0004-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/08/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion to Vacate Consent Decree and Exit Plan Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(5) [ECF# 607]
JI-CT-0004-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/13/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling and Order Interpreting Consent Decree [ECF# 633] (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/17/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Reconsideration and Memorandum of Law in Support [ECF# 636]
JI-CT-0004-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/31/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling on Motion to Vacate [ECF# 640] (2010 WL 5590094 / 2010 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 99455) (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/22/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling on Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration [ECF# 643] (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/22/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Droney, Christopher Fitzgerald (D. Conn., Second Circuit)
JI-CT-0004-0012 | JI-CT-0004-0013 | JI-CT-0004-0014
Fitzsimmons, Holly B. (D. Conn.)
Nevas, Alan Harris (D. Conn.)
JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-0004 | JI-CT-0004-0006 | JI-CT-0004-0007 | JI-CT-0004-0008 | JI-CT-0004-0009
Underhill, Stefan R. (D. Conn.)
Zampano, Robert Carmine (D. Conn.)
Monitors/Masters Atkins, David P. (Connecticut)
Hutchison, Joseph C. (Connecticut)
Mancuso, Raymond (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-0005 | JI-CT-0004-0006 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Shearin, James T. (Connecticut)
Sirry, Ray D. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-0004 | JI-CT-0004-0008 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Sullivan, David Joseph Jr. (Connecticut)
Zeldes, Jacob D. (Connecticut)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Blank, Adam J. (Connecticut)
Frederick, Steven M. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0006 | JI-CT-0004-0011 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Geballe, Shelley D. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0001 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Gracer, Jeffrey B. (New York)
Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York)
JI-CT-0004-0001 | JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-0006 | JI-CT-0004-0011 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Lustbader, Ira P. (New York)
JI-CT-0004-0011 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Newman, Jonel (Connecticut)
Pitchal, Erik S. (New York)
Polansky, Jessica E. (New York)
Stone, Martha (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0001 | JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Wiltsek, Gena E. (New York)
JI-CT-0004-0011 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Wizner, Stephen (Connecticut)
Defendant's Lawyers Hardy, David S. (Connecticut)
Massicotte, Kimberly P. (Connecticut)
Pearlman, Susan T. (Connecticut)
Peterson, Anne D. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0010 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Ragaglia, Kristine D. (Connecticut)
Robertson, James K. Jr. (Connecticut)
Rubin, Ann R. (Connecticut)
JI-CT-0004-0003 | JI-CT-0004-0006 | JI-CT-0004-0010 | JI-CT-0004-0015 | JI-CT-0004-9000
Scholl, Jane S. (Connecticut)
Tucker, John Essex (Connecticut)
Webster, Arthur E. (Connecticut)
Welsh, James P. (Connecticut)
Williams, Kristine D. (Connecticut)
Zivyou, Benjamin (Connecticut)
Other Lawyers Annexstein, Leslie T. (New York)
Collins, Barbara J. (Connecticut)
Creamer, Susan R. (Connecticut)
Ghio, Christina D. (Connecticut)

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