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Case Name Washington State Coalition for the Homeless v. DSHS PB-WA-0001
Docket / Court 91-2-15889-4 ( State Court )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
In 1991, the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless, along with several homeless families with children, filed this class action suit against Washington's Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) in the Superior Court of Washington for King County. Represented by public and private ... read more >
In 1991, the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless, along with several homeless families with children, filed this class action suit against Washington's Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) in the Superior Court of Washington for King County. Represented by public and private counsel, Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory damages, alleging violations of state and federal statutes, in addition to state and federal constitutional provisions. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that DSHS's failure to assist homeless families, including those who need housing assistance to prevent or shorten foster care placement, violated their mandatory duties under state law, the federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, and the liberty and privacy protections of the due process clauses of the federal and state constitutions.

On August 21, 1992, the Court (Judge Ann Schlinder) granted in part Defendants' motion to dismiss Plaintiff's federal statutory claims. On December 15, 1992, the Court certified a class of all present and future families with homeless children, and all families who needed or would need housing assistance to prevent or shorten their children's foster placement.

On February 16, 1994, the Court held that in dependency cases the Superior Court had the power to order the state agency to provide housing assistance when homelessness is the primary factor for foster placement. The Court also held that state law required the agency to implement a plan to adequately assist homeless families.

After a May 31, 1994 trial, the Court ruled that the agency's plan was inadequate to address the needs of homeless children. Both parties appealed to the Washington Supreme Court, challenging three separate orders by the trial Court.

On December 24, 1997, the Washington Supreme Court (Richard P. Guy, J.) affirmed the trial court's decision on all counts, finding that dependency courts have the authority to order DSHS to provide housing assistance to homeless families; that DSHS must "perform its duty according to professionally accepted procedures and standards"; that an adequate plan must include prevention assistance, emergency shelter assistance, transitional assistance to get children out of shelters and into stable housing, and a process for ongoing monitoring and evaluation; and that DSHS's planning process must include coordination within DSHS's divisions and with other state agencies. Washington's legislature responded to the court's ruling with legislation codifying the ruling and substantial increases in funding. In 2000, plaintiffs joined the defendants in seeking dismissal of the suit.

Timothy Shoffner - 07/13/2012

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Benefit Source
Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act
Content of Injunction
Family reunification
Housing assistance
Placement in shelters
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) State of Washington
Plaintiff Description families of homeless children at risk of lengthened placement in foster care without assistance from department
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
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Stipulation of Facts 09/01/1993
PB-WA-0001-0014.pdf | Detail
Brief of Amici Curiae 09/15/1993
PB-WA-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment 09/15/1993
PB-WA-0001-0016.pdf | Detail
Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment 09/15/1993
PB-WA-0001-0018.pdf | Detail
Plaintiffs' Memorandum Opposing Defendants' Summary Judgment Motion 10/08/1993
PB-WA-0001-0015.pdf | Detail
Defendants' Reply Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment 10/18/1993
PB-WA-0001-0017.pdf | Detail
Order on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment 02/18/1994
PB-WA-0001-0013.pdf | Detail
Motion for Reconsideration/Amendment of Judgment 05/26/1994
PB-WA-0001-0019.pdf | Detail
Transcript of Proceedings 05/26/1994
PB-WA-0001-0022.pdf | Detail
Letter Re: Settlement 09/23/1994
PB-WA-0001-0021.pdf | Detail
Plaintiff's Memorandum Opposing Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration and Supporting Motion to Reinstate Plaintiffs' Federal Statutory Claims 11/04/1994
PB-WA-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order 03/06/1995
PB-WA-0001-0012.pdf | Detail
Brief of Appellants 10/09/1995
PB-WA-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Brief of Respondents and Cross-Appellants 12/20/1995 (1995 WL 17223746)
PB-WA-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Brief of Appellants and Cross-Respondents 02/16/1996 (1996 WL 33689479)
PB-WA-0001-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Reply Brief of Respondents and Cross-Appellants 03/20/1996 (1996 WL 33689480)
PB-WA-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Brief of Amicus Curiae 07/22/1996 (1996 WL 33689481)
PB-WA-0001-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Appellants' Reply to Brief of Amicus Curiae 08/23/1996 (1996 WL 33689482)
PB-WA-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Opinion [Supreme Court of Washington] 12/24/1997 (949 P.2d 1291)
PB-WA-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Spring 1998 Newsletter 05/01/1998
PB-WA-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
2003-2005 Washington State Homeless Families Plan 01/01/2003
PB-WA-0001-0020.pdf | Detail
Judges Guy, Richard P. (State Supreme Court)
Schindler, Ann (State Appellate Court)
PB-WA-0001-0012 | PB-WA-0001-0013
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Mirra, Michael (Washington)
PB-WA-0001-0002 | PB-WA-0001-0003 | PB-WA-0001-0009 | PB-WA-0001-0014 | PB-WA-0001-0015 | PB-WA-0001-0016 | PB-WA-0001-0021 | PB-WA-0001-0022
Salzarulo, Lori (Washington)
PB-WA-0001-0002 | PB-WA-0001-0003 | PB-WA-0001-0009 | PB-WA-0001-0022
Vaughn, Carol (Washington)
PB-WA-0001-0002 | PB-WA-0001-0003 | PB-WA-0001-0009
Defendant's Lawyers Clark-Mahoney, Charlotte E. (Washington)
PB-WA-0001-0014 | PB-WA-0001-0017 | PB-WA-0001-0018 | PB-WA-0001-0019 | PB-WA-0001-0022
Collins, Michael W. (Washington)
PB-WA-0001-0005 | PB-WA-0001-0006 | PB-WA-0001-0007 | PB-WA-0001-0017 | PB-WA-0001-0018 | PB-WA-0001-0019 | PB-WA-0001-0022
Gregoire, Christine O. (Washington)
PB-WA-0001-0005 | PB-WA-0001-0006 | PB-WA-0001-0007
McArdle, Trisha L. (Washington)
PB-WA-0001-0005 | PB-WA-0001-0006 | PB-WA-0001-0007
Other Lawyers Keyt, Aaron (Washington)
Rees, Anne D. (Washington)
PB-WA-0001-0001 | PB-WA-0001-0010
Reinmuth, Jill Hanson (Washington)

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