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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Wyatt B. v. Brown CW-OR-0001
Docket / Court 6:19-cv-00556-AA ( D. Or. )
State/Territory Oregon
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On April 16, 2019, ten children in the custody of the Oregon Department of Human Services filed this putative class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. The plaintiffs sued the Governor of Oregon, the Director of the Oregon Department of Child Welfare, and ... read more >
On April 16, 2019, ten children in the custody of the Oregon Department of Human Services filed this putative class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. The plaintiffs sued the Governor of Oregon, the Director of the Oregon Department of Child Welfare, and the Oregon Department of Human Services along with its director, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (42 U.S.C. § 12131(2)), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 USC § 794), the Adoption Assistance Program (42 U.S.C. § 670 et seq.), and the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act (CWA) of 1980 (42 U.S.C. § 620 et seq.). The plaintiffs, represented by A Better Childhood, Disability Rights Oregon, and private counsel, sought a declaration that the defendants had violated the plaintiffs’ rights under the First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, the ADA, and the Rehabilitation Act. They also sought an injunction against the defendant’s unlawful practices and attorney’s fees. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the Oregon DHS exhibited a pattern of 1) failing to follow through on numerous federal recommendations to hire more caseworkers, follow up with foster-home monitoring, and improve “permanency planning;” 2) failing to ensure a sufficient number of foster homes for the disabled and non-disabled children in its care; 3) sending excess disabled and non-disabled children to for-profit, out-of-state foster care centers unequipped to properly care for disabled children while failing to maintain oversight of such centers’ practices and child welfare; and 4) subjecting disabled and non-disabled children to the risk of harm through placement instability.

On June 24th, parties convened settlement negotiations, setting additional conferences for the months ahead. But the negotiations went nowhere and, during the second conference on July 11th, future settlement conferences were cancelled.

Only July 25th, the defendants moved to dismiss or make more definite the complaint. They argued that the court should abstain from exercising jurisdiction because it would be inappropriate for a federal court to tell Oregon how to run its juvenile court system as the plaintiffs demanded. They also argued that plaintiffs failed to state a claim under the ADA, Child Welfare Act, and § 1983. Specifically, the defendants illustrated DHS efforts to improve its foster services, placement, and permanency, and argued that these efforts met the Constitution's requirement that the State care for children’s basic needs; they also asserted that the ADA and CWA require reviews to be conducted only in state court.

On August 8th, 2019, the plaintiffs filed their response to the motion to dismiss. They argued that abstention should only be exercised in the most extraordinary of cases and that the cases cited by defendants did not apply to the factual background of this case. The plaintiffs argued that DHS’ practices and case plans were inconsistent with provisions under the CWA and ADA and alleged that the defendants’ motion to dismiss both lacked legal merit and was inconsistent with the congressional intent to have the ADA and CWA apply as equally to disabled children as to non-disabled children.

The case is ongoing.

Alec Richards - 09/29/2019


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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
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Classification / placement
Family abuse and neglect
Foster care (benefits, training)
Juveniles
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Relative caretakers
Siblings (visitation, placement)
Suicide prevention
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
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.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Director of Child Welfare
Governor of Oregon
Oregon Department of Human Services
Plaintiff Description Foster children under the control of the Oregon Department of Human Services.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  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)
6:19-cv-556 (D. Or.)
CW-OR-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
CW-OR-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/16/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, to Make More Definite and Certain [ECF# 31]
CW-OR-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/25/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike [ECF# 37]
CW-OR-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/08/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Aiken, Ann L. (D. Or.) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Benedetto, Anastasia (New York) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-9000
Chaimov, Gregory A. (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0001 | CW-OR-0001-0003 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Cooper, Emily R. (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0001 | CW-OR-0001-0003 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0001 | CW-OR-0001-0003 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Post, Dawn J. (New York) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0001 | CW-OR-0001-0003 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Shank, Christine (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0001 | CW-OR-0001-0003
Southwick, Paul J.C. (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0001 | CW-OR-0001-0003 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Stenson, Thomas (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0001 | CW-OR-0001-0003 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Blaesing, Lauren (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0002 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Joyce, Anna M. (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0002 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Markowitz, David B. (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0002 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Owens, Laura R. (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0002 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Potter, Sheila (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0002 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Scott, Carla (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0002 | CW-OR-0001-9000
Stineman, Renee R. (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0002
Wilson, Harry B. (Oregon) show/hide docs
CW-OR-0001-0002 | CW-OR-0001-9000

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