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Case Name D.G. v. Henry CW-OK-0001
Docket / Court 4:08-cv-00074-GKF-FHM ( N.D. Okla. )
Additional Docket(s) 09−5093  [ 09-5093 ]
State/Territory Oklahoma
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Attorney Organization Children's Rights, Inc.
Case Summary
The plaintiffs, represented by Children's Rights, filed this class action suit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) in February 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. The complaint alleged violations of the First, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth ... read more >
The plaintiffs, represented by Children's Rights, filed this class action suit against the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) in February 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. The complaint alleged violations of the First, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. § 621 et seq., the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, 42 U.S.C. § 670 et seq., and Oklahoma state law. The complaint alleged that DHS placed children in dangerous and inappropriate placements, including extended stays in emergency shelters; failed to monitor the safety of children in DHS custody due to excessive case worker caseloads; failed to provide mental health and other behavioral services; and failed to provide legal representation. The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief and a permanent injunction enjoining defendants from subjecting plaintiffs to practices that violate their constitutional rights.

In April 2008, the defendants moved to dismiss the case and several Oklahoma-based children's agencies filed amici curiae briefs in response. In January 2009, Judge Gregory K. Frizzell granted the motion to dismiss claims under federal common law and the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, but denied the motion with regard to the other claims. D.G. v. Henry, 594 F. Supp. 2d 1273 (N.D. Okl. 2009).

On May 5, 2009, the court certified the class of the plaintiffs as all children who are or will be in the legal custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (1) due to a report or suspicion of abuse or neglect; or (2) who are or will be adjudicated deprived due to abuse or neglect. The defendants appealed the ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, but in February 2010, the appellate court upheld the class certification.

The parties then engaged in extensive and contested discovery. The plaintiffs provided five expert reports and filed numerous motions to compel the defendants to produce various items. The defendants again moved to dismiss the case and to decertify the class. In November and December 2011, the court denied the motion to decertify and granted the motions to dismiss only as to claims pertaining to rights of familial association and procedural due process. The case proceeded towards a trial scheduled for February 2012.

Meanwhile, the parties engaged in court-supervised settlement conferences. By January 2012, they negotiated an agreement providing for structural reorganization of DHS and appointed experts to oversee the development and implementation of the Compromise Settlement Agreement (CSA). After a series of fairness hearings, the court approved the CSA on February 29, 2012.

The CSA implementation plans provided that the defendant DHS would restructure its agency; improve screening, investigating, and reporting of abuse; reduce the use of emergency shelters; and reduce workloads and improve training for caseworkers. The parties agreed to designate three individuals as Co-Neutrals to act as arbiters of any dispute arising out of the CSA and to evaluate and render judgments about DHS's ongoing compliance efforts. The implementation of the CSA would take at least five years. Additionally, on March 31, 2013, the Court ordered the defendants to pay attorneys' fees and expenses in the amount of about $6 million.

Although DHS originally planned to exit from the CSA in December 2016, it was unable to do so for failure to adequately comply with its terms. In their August 2018 report, the Co-Neutrals noted that although DHS had made important advancements over the course of its reform, those advances were not yet fully instituted, particularly with respect to manageable caseloads and an adequate array of placements for children. The report noted that in some areas, most critically safety for children in the care and custody of DHS, the department’s efforts had been inadequate.

In May 2018, the Co-Neutrals requested that the Court suspend the operations of a particular children's center for failure to comply with the CSA. The Court granted this request and DHS complied by relocating the children from that center.

The Co-Neutrals' monitoring of DHS's compliance with the CSA is still ongoing.

Elizabeth Homan - 12/21/2012
Katherine Reineck - 01/30/2016
Eva Richardson - 12/25/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Goals and Timekeeping
Hire
Monitor/Master
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Reporting
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Adoption
Classification / placement
Counseling
Emergency shelter
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Family reunification
Foster care (benefits, training)
Funding
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Individualized planning
Juveniles
Neglect by staff
Parents (visitation, involvement)
Placement in shelters
Siblings (visitation, placement)
Special education
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Timeliness of case assignment
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA), 42 U.S.C. § 620 et seq.
Adoption Assistance Program, 42 U.S.C. § 670 et seq.
Defendant(s) Oklahoma
Plaintiff Description The class of plaintiffs includes all children who are or will be in the legal custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (1) due to a report or suspicion of abuse or neglect; or (2) who are or will be adjudicated deprived due to abuse or neglect.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Children's Rights, Inc.
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 Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2012 - 2019
Filing Year 2008
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Legal Accountability in the Service-Based Welfare State: Lessons from Child Welfare Reform
Date: Summer 2009
By: Kathleen G. Noonan, Charles F. Sabel, William H. Simon (Center for High Impact Philanthropy , Columbia Law School and Stanford Law School Faculty)
Citation: 34 Law & Soc. Inquiry 523 (Summer 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
4:08-cv-74 (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/13/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and Request for Class Action
CW-OK-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/13/2008
Opinion and Order (591 F.Supp.2d 1186) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/11/2008
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order [ECF# 220] (594 F.Supp.2d 1273) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/19/2009
Opinion and Order (2009 WL 455266) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/20/2009
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order (2009 WL 1011595) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/15/2009
Source: Westlaw
Reporter's Transcript of Proceedings
CW-OK-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/05/2009
Opinion and Order from the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit [Ct. of App. ECF# 324] (594 F.3d 1188)
CW-OK-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/08/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
RE: 09-5093, DG, et al v. DeVaughn, et al [Ct. of App. ECF# 329]
CW-OK-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/02/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order (2010 WL 1257583) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/24/2010
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order (2010 WL 1257621) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0014.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/24/2010
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order (2010 WL 2079710) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/21/2010
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order (2010 WL 5387839) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0016.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/21/2010
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order (2011 WL 1104091) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/23/2011
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order (2011 WL 1344200) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0018.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/08/2011
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order (2011 WL 2746180) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0019.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/13/2011
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order (2011 WL 2881461) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0020.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/15/2011
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order [ECF# 727] (278 F.R.D. 635) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/15/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order (2011 WL 5904660) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0021.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/23/2011
Source: Westlaw
Opinion and Order [ECF# 741] (2011 WL 6009628) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/01/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order (2011 WL 6960613) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0022.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/16/2011
Source: Westlaw
Compromise and Settlement Agreement
CW-OK-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/04/2012
Final Order Approving Compromise and Settlement Agreement [ECF# 778] (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/29/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 858] (2013 WL 1343151) (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0024.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/31/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [ECF# 859] (N.D. Okla.)
CW-OK-0001-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Co-Neutral Commentary Two - Compromise and Settlement Agreement
CW-OK-0001-0025.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/01/2014
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Co-Neutral Commentary Four - Compromise and Settlement Agreement
CW-OK-0001-0026.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/01/2015
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
show all people docs
Judges Frizzell, Gregory Kent (N.D. Okla.) show/hide docs
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McCarthy, Frank H. (N.D. Okla.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
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Siler, Eugene Edward Jr. (Sixth Circuit, E.D. Ky., W.D. Ky.) show/hide docs
CW-OK-0001-0002
Plaintiff's Lawyers Almonrode, Patrick S. (New York) show/hide docs
CW-OK-0001-9000
Barber, Philip (New York) show/hide docs
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Bauer, Andrew B. (New York) show/hide docs
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Beckman, Mark A. (New York) show/hide docs
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Borten, Laurence D. (New York) show/hide docs
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Cahalan, John S. (New York) show/hide docs
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Day, Bruce (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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DeMuro, Paul (Ohio) show/hide docs
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Dorwart, Frederic (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Edwards, Joe (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Fontaine, R. Nadine (New York) show/hide docs
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Frei-Pearson, Jeremiah (New York) show/hide docs
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Geraci, Phil A. (New York) show/hide docs
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Graham, Scott Alan (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Grewal-Kok, Yasmin (New York) show/hide docs
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Henek, Carly (New York) show/hide docs
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Ingber, Miriam F. (New York) show/hide docs
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Kapell, William (New York) show/hide docs
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Lambiase, Susan (New York) show/hide docs
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Lewis, G. Michael (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York) show/hide docs
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Lustbader, Ira P. (New York) show/hide docs
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Miller, Jodi Kim (New York) show/hide docs
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Moff, Jason Michael (New York) show/hide docs
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Robinson-Glasser, Sara (New York) show/hide docs
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Russo, Sarah (New York) show/hide docs
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Seymour, R. Thomas (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Vicari, Angela Rosalee (New York) show/hide docs
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Wiltsek, Gena E. (New York) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Askew, Thomas Martin (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Barnett, Elizabeth (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Bingham, Donald Mitchell (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Boughton, Scott David (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Cortes, Stephen (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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DeSimone, Donna M. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Everest, Tricia Louise (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Freeman, Richard Weldon Jr. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Garren, Richard T. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Gentry, Dorothy Sharon (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Hall, Melvin Curtis (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Hillerman, Holly M. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Koepsel, Kristopher Edward (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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LaBauve, Elizabeth Barnett (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Mensching, John Patrick Jr. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Meyers, D. Kent (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Nance, Robert A. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Nigh, Holly M. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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O'Leary, Catherine A. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Page, David Phillip (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Resetaritz, Richard Alan (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Skeith, Robert P. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Strealy, Joseph W. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Theban, Stephanie L. (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Walters, Joseph (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
CW-OK-0001-9000

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