In January 1989, a local attorney seeking additional foster care beds for Shawnee County children field this lawsuit in Shawnee County District Court. The Children's Rights Project of the ACLU filed an amended petition on February 1990 and made the suit a class action, which contended that the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services of Kansas was not in compliance with state and federal law and was violating the constitutional rights of Kansas children. They described numerous instances where, they contended, the CINC program failed to provide adequate care for the named plaintiffs.
The case originally named Governor Mike Hayden as a defendant; when Governor Joan Finney took office, she was substituted for Governor Hayden. Also named as defendants were the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, the Commissioner of Youth Services, the Director of the Kansas Children in Need of Care Program, and the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS).
The trial court dismissed the Governor as a defendant because it believed it could not grant the relief sought by plaintiffs against the Governor. Plaintiffs appealed from the order dismissing the Governor, but that issue was declared moot by the Kansas Supreme Court, because in the meantime, the case had settled. Sheila A. v. Finney, 861 P.2d 120 (Kan. 1993).
The Department and the ACLU reached a settlement which the court approved in June 1993. That settlement agreement contains numerous requirements the Department has to adhere to by certain deadlines. The topics covered by the agreement included protective services, preventative services, case planning and reviews, placements, services, adoption, named plaintiffs, financial resources, staffing, training, information systems, Program Analysis Unit, monitoring, compliance, termination, and enforcement. Both ACLU and the Department agreed that compliance to the agreement would be monitored by the Department's internal quality assurance staff and by Legislative Post Audit.
In July 1995, plaintiffs filed a motion seeking attorney fees and expenses under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1988. The Shawnee District Court, James P. Buchele, J., held that plaintiffs were prevailing parties entitled to award of attorney fees, but awarded attorney fees in less than amount requested. Plaintiffs appealed. The Kansas Supreme Court, Larson, J., held that: (1) trial court abused its discretion in excluding all work that preceded settlement negotiations from eligibility for reimbursement; (2) plaintiffs were prevailing parties within terms of 42 U.S.C.A. § 1988; (3) trial court erred as a matter of law in denying plaintiffs entire claim for expenses without explanation; (4) trial court properly based attorney fees paid to plaintiffs' lead counsel on local market rates; and (5) trial court did not abuse discretion in reducing hours of out-of-state attorneys based on insufficient recording of tasks, duplication of efforts, time unrelated to litigation, and time spent on travel. Sheila A. by Balloun v. Whiteman
, 259 Kan. 549 (Kan. 1996).Soojin Cha - 06/20/2016