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Case Name Marisol A. v. Giuliani CW-NY-0001
Docket / Court 1:95-cv-10533 (RJW) ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Child Welfare
Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Attorney Organization Children's Rights, Inc.
Case Summary
This federal class action was brought by children in the custody of the New York City Child Welfare Administration ("CWA"), and children who, while not in the custody of CWA, are or will be at risk of abuse or neglect and whose status is known or should be known to CWA. It was filed on December 13, ... read more >
This federal class action was brought by children in the custody of the New York City Child Welfare Administration ("CWA"), and children who, while not in the custody of CWA, are or will be at risk of abuse or neglect and whose status is known or should be known to CWA. It was filed on December 13, 1995 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by Children's Rights Inc., Lawyers for Children, and private counsel, sought class certification, declaratory and injunctive relief against both the city and the state (collectively, the defendants). The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants violated the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program of the Medicaid Act, the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and state law.

Specifically, the plaintiffs contend that the defendants systematically:

  • failed to protect the plaintiffs from abuse and neglect and to provide them and their families with appropriate, legally required services;
  • failed to appropriately accept reports of child abuse and neglect for investigation;
  • failed to investigate those reports of child abuse and neglect that are accepted in the time and manner required by law;
  • failed to provide mandated pre-placement preventive services to enable children at risk of being placed in foster care to remain at home safely with their families whenever possible;
  • failed to provide children in need of foster care placement with the least restrictive, most family-like placements designed to meet their individual needs;
  • failed to provide foster children, their birth families and their foster families with the services that are essential to ensuring that the children do not deteriorate in CWA's custody;
  • failed to provide foster children with disabilities with placements and services appropriate to their individual needs and necessary to allow these children fully to participate in the City's child welfare system;
  • failed to provide foster children with appropriate case management, case plans and the services
  • failed to provide children for whom adoption is appropriate with services necessary to ensure that they are adopted quickly;
  • failed to provide teenage children who will leave the foster care system to live on their own with services adequate to prepare them to live independently;
  • failed to provide foster children with the administrative, judicial and dispositional reviews to which they are legally entitled;
  • failed to provide caseworkers with sufficient training, support and supervision; and
  • failed to maintain an adequate information system to monitor, track and plan for children, and to manage the child welfare system effectively.

As a result of these systemic deficiencies, the plaintiffs contended that the defendants jeopardized their well being.

On June 18, 1996, District Judge Robert J. Ward certified a class of children in foster care and those reported to be abused or neglected. The court also denied the defendants' motion to dismiss, interpreting children's constitutional right to protection from harm to include harm that results from unnecessary separation from parents and from extended stays in foster care without a permanent family. Marisol A. v. Giuliani, 929 F.Supp. 662 (1996). Some procedural skirmishes dealing with the defendants' interlocutory appeal followed. On September 26, 1997, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's certification of the plaintiff class and directed that the district judge divide the classes into subclasses for organizational and management purposes. Marisol A. v Giuliani, 126 F.3d 372 (2d Cir. 1997).

In July of 1998, the parties began settlement negotiations. Over the objections of would-be intervenors representing a subclass of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youths in the custody of the city agency, the court approved separate settlement agreements with the city and the state defendants in March 1999. Marisol A. v. Giuliani, 185 F.R.D. 152 (S.D. N.Y. 1999). Objectors appealed, but on July 10, 2000, the Second Circuit of Appeals affirmed the district court's approval of both the city and state settlement agreements. Joel A. v. Giuliani, 218 F.3d 132 (2d Cir. 2000).

The class action settlement required the city to use independent outside child welfare experts to guide and assist it in undertaking systemic reform. The advisory panel had complete access to all aspects of the city's child welfare agency, and was empowered to provide recommendations, issue progress reports on the status of the reform effort, and determine whether the city is acting in good faith in implementing systemic reform. The city settlement was successfully concluded in 2001.

The plaintiffs returned to court in January 2001, seeking an order directing compliance by the state with specific terms of the state settlement agreement. The areas of alleged noncompliance included the failure to implement a statewide child welfare management information system. After an August 2001 evidentiary hearing, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion in part, holding that the state had acted with insufficient diligence in implementing the information management system. Marisol A. ex re. Forbes v. Giuliani, 157 F.Supp.2d 303 (S.D.N.Y. 2001). Judge Ward extended the term of the agreement in this area, and directed that the state file semi-annual reports with the Plaintiffs until the Court determined that the state had fully complied with the relevant portions of the agreement.

Very little activity appears in the docket after that ruling. The state filed a report required by the settlement agreement in July 2008, and then there was nearly a 10-year gap. In 2017, the case was reassigned to Judge George Daniels. And there was a report from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (“OCFS”). This report states that OCFS were taking reasonable efforts to develop and implement a diligent and sufficient information management system for child welfare needs. This report was a semi-annual report due January 2017 and was required by the August 29, 2001 Settlement Agreement.

Presumably the plaintiffs continue to monitor implementation.

Alice Liu - 05/19/2013
Sean Whetstone - 05/17/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Benefit Source
Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Crowding / caseload
Least restrictive environment
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Classification / placement
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Family abuse and neglect
Family reunification
Foster care (benefits, training)
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Individualized planning
Neglect by staff
Pattern or Practice
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Timeliness of case assignment
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
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.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5101 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
State law
Defendant(s) Governor of the State of New York
Mayor of the City of New York
New York City Administration of Children’s Services
New York State Office of Children and Family Services
Plaintiff Description All children who are in the custody of the New York City Child Welfare Administration ("CWA"), and those children who, while not in the custody of CWA, are at risk of neglect or abuse and whose status is known or should be known to CWA.
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 Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1998 - n/a
Filing Year 1995
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing CW-NY-0005 : Wilder v. Bernstein (S.D.N.Y.)
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 ]

  The Marisol A. v. Giuliani Settlement: "Innovative Resolution" or "All-Out Disaster"
Date: Summer 2002
By: Sarah Hultman Dunn (Columbia Law School Law Student)
Citation: 35 Colum. J.L. & Soc. Probs. 275 (2002)
[ Detail ]

  Institutional Reform Litigation: Innovative Agreement Ends Marisol Litigation
Date: Jan/Feb 1999
By: Ross Sandler and David Schoenbrod (New York Law School Faculty)
Citation: 5 City Law 1 (1999)
[ Detail ]

95 CV 10533 (RJW) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/12/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, Class Action
CW-NY-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/13/1995
Memorandum and Order (929 F.Supp. 660) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/01/1996
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (929 F.Supp. 662) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/18/1996
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum and Order (1996 WL 419887) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0018.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/26/1996
Memorandum and Order (1996 WL 453099) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0019.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/12/1996
Opinion (104 F.3d 524)
CW-NY-0001-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/10/1996
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision (1997 WL 240597 / 1997 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 6396) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0020.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/08/1997
Ruling on Petition for Writ of Certiorari (520 U.S. 1211)
CW-NY-0001-0028.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/12/1997
Source: Westlaw
Memorandum and Order (1997 WL 349951) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0021.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/24/1997
Opinion (126 F.3d 372)
CW-NY-0001-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/26/1997
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision and Order (1997 WL 630183 / 1997 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 15705) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0022.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/10/1997
Memorandum Decision and Order (1998 WL 132810 / 1998 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 3719) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0023.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/23/1998
Memorandum and Order (1998 WL 158948) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0024.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/01/1998
Memorandum Decision and Order (1998 WL 199927 / 1998 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 5760) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0025.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/23/1998
Memorandum Decision (1998 WL 265123 / 1998 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 7726) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0026.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/22/1998
Memorandum Decision and Order (1998 WL 274472 / 1998 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 7799) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0027.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/27/1998
Settlement Agreement [City defendants]
CW-NY-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/01/1998
Settlement Agreement [State Defendants]
CW-NY-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/01/1998
Memorandum Decision and Order (1999 WL 33309 / 1999 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 720) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0029.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/25/1999
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (185 F.R.D. 152) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0017.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/31/1999
Source: Google Scholar
Brief of Intervenor-Plaintiffs-Appellants
CW-NY-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/15/1999
Brief of Plaintiffs-Appellees
CW-NY-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/14/1999
Brief for Defendants-Appellees Giuliani, Hammons, and Scoppetta
CW-NY-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/1999
Brief for State Defendants-Appellees
CW-NY-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/17/1999
Brief of Amicus Curiae, the Legal Society
CW-NY-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/18/1999
Opinion (218 F.3d 132)
CW-NY-0001-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/10/2000
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (111 F.Supp.2d 381) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/30/2000
Source: Google Scholar
Final Report
CW-NY-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/06/2000
Opinion and Order (157 F.Supp.2d 303) (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/29/2001
Source: Google Scholar
January 2017 Report [ECF# 383]
CW-NY-0001-0030.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/12/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Daniels, George B. (S.D.N.Y.)
Eaton, Douglas F. (S.D.N.Y.)
Feinberg, Wilfred (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013
Leval, Pierre Nelson (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
Parker, Katherine H. Court not on record [Magistrate]
Walker, John Mercer Jr. (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
CW-NY-0001-0013 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Ward, Robert Joseph (S.D.N.Y.)
CW-NY-0001-0002 | CW-NY-0001-0003 | CW-NY-0001-0009 | CW-NY-0001-0010 | CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0015 | CW-NY-0001-0016 | CW-NY-0001-0017 | CW-NY-0001-0018 | CW-NY-0001-0019 | CW-NY-0001-0020 | CW-NY-0001-0022 | CW-NY-0001-0023 | CW-NY-0001-0024 | CW-NY-0001-0025 | CW-NY-0001-0026 | CW-NY-0001-0027 | CW-NY-0001-0029
Plaintiff's Lawyers Best, Landis (New York)
Brodsky, David M. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0002 | CW-NY-0001-0003 | CW-NY-0001-0005 | CW-NY-0001-0014 | CW-NY-0001-9000
Cook, Victoria (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0004 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Curnin, Thomas F. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0002 | CW-NY-0001-0003 | CW-NY-0001-0005 | CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0014 | CW-NY-0001-9000
Dembrow, Ira J. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0005 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Falcone, Marc (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0004 | CW-NY-0001-0014 | CW-NY-0001-9000
Firestein, Rose E. (New York)
Freedman, Karen J. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0001 | CW-NY-0001-0002 | CW-NY-0001-0003 | CW-NY-0001-0005 | CW-NY-0001-0010 | CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0014 | CW-NY-0001-0015 | CW-NY-0001-0016 | CW-NY-0001-9000
Kimura, Rebecca Kim (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0001 | CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013 | CW-NY-0001-0016
Kirklin, John E. (New York)
Lambiase, Susan (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0005 | CW-NY-0001-0010 | CW-NY-0001-0014 | CW-NY-0001-0015
Lasdon, Douglas (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0004 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Leffell, Daniel J. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0004 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Lerner, Gayle (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0001 | CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0016
Levine, Craig (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0001 | CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013 | CW-NY-0001-0016
Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0001 | CW-NY-0001-0002 | CW-NY-0001-0003 | CW-NY-0001-0005 | CW-NY-0001-0010 | CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013 | CW-NY-0001-0014 | CW-NY-0001-0015 | CW-NY-0001-0016 | CW-NY-0001-9000
Marcus, Carol A. (New York)
Murdock, Kim E. (New York)
Nothenberg, Shirim (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0005 | CW-NY-0001-0010 | CW-NY-0001-0014 | CW-NY-0001-9000
Park, Anne Y. (New York)
Peters, Mark G. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0001 | CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0016 | CW-NY-0001-9000
Powell, Jeffrey K. (New York)
Pumo, David (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0004 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Shull, Robert (New York)
Stone, Martha (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0001 | CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0016
Vash, Serina (New York)
Velona, Jess A. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0005 | CW-NY-0001-0014 | CW-NY-0001-0015
Wang, Mariann Meier (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0004 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Wolff, Tobias B. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0004 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Defendant's Lawyers Bansal, Preeta D. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0007 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Belohlavek, Michael S. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0007 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Billet, Barbara G. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013
Bristow, William (New York)
Caputo, Francis F. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013
Connolly, Steven M. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0003 | CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013 | CW-NY-0001-0016
Crotty, Paul Austin (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013 | CW-NY-0001-0016
Forte, Robert E. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013
Freedman, Elizabeth I. (New York)
Goldstein, Stephanie Freeman (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013
Goodman, Lorna B. (New York)
Goodman, Grace (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0006 | CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013 | CW-NY-0001-0014 | CW-NY-0001-0015 | CW-NY-0001-0016 | CW-NY-0001-9000
Hess, Michael D. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0002 | CW-NY-0001-0006 | CW-NY-0001-0014 | CW-NY-0001-0015
Hughes, Thomas D. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013
Kramer, Judith T. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0003 | CW-NY-0001-0007 | CW-NY-0001-0010 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Popkin, Michael S. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013 | CW-NY-0001-0016 | CW-NY-0001-9000
Rubin, Gail (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0002 | CW-NY-0001-0006 | CW-NY-0001-0014 | CW-NY-0001-0015
Seidman, Phyllis (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0016
Sonnenshein, Larry A. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0006 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Spitzer, Eliot (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0007 | CW-NY-0001-0010 | CW-NY-0001-0014
Vacco, Dennis C. (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0012 | CW-NY-0001-0013 | CW-NY-0001-0016 | CW-NY-0001-9000
Woods, John (New York)
Younkins, Ronald (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-0016
Other Lawyers Abrams, Floyd (New York)
CW-NY-0001-0011 | CW-NY-0001-9000
Davis, Richard J. (New York)
Drinane, Monica (New York)
Goldberg, Janet L. (New York)
Greenberg, Daniel L. (New York)
McNally, Kay G. (New York)
Rosenbloom, Nancy (New York)
Sherman, Jonathan (New York)
Yale, Harris J. (New York)

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