Case: G.L. v. Sherman

4:77-cv-00242 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri

Filed Date: March 25, 1977

Closed Date: Feb. 1, 2006

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In 1977 (and thereafter amended a number of times), the foster children of Jackson Missouri, represented by Children's Rights Inc., and Legal Aid of Western Missouri, filed a class action aimed at reforming the state's child welfare system. The federal complaint charges the Missouri Division of Family Services (DFS) with endangering the lives of children in state custody by failing to properly investigate and monitor foster homes that were found to be unsafe, unsanitary and unsupervised. Plaint…

In 1977 (and thereafter amended a number of times), the foster children of Jackson Missouri, represented by Children's Rights Inc., and Legal Aid of Western Missouri, filed a class action aimed at reforming the state's child welfare system. The federal complaint charges the Missouri Division of Family Services (DFS) with endangering the lives of children in state custody by failing to properly investigate and monitor foster homes that were found to be unsafe, unsanitary and unsupervised. Plaintiffs alleged that children were exposed to contagious diseases, deprived of medical and psychiatric care, subjected to physical and emotional abuse, and transferred between foster homes inappropriately and without adequate preparation. The action was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. §601 et. seq, and 42 U.S.C §1302.

We don't have the early parts of the docket sheet in this case, so do not know the ins and outs of the subsequent litigation. But in 1983, a settlement agreement was reached mandating top-to-bottom reform of the foster care system. In 1985, DFS sought a modification of the consent decree, which was countered by a contempt motion from the plaintiffs for state failure to implement court-ordered reforms. In 1992, a full trial was held in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri (Judge Dean Whipple) resulting in a finding of contempt due to a "lack of commitment to make a good faith effort." The court order called for defendants to increase budgets through state lobbying and directed defendants to transfer caseworkers to Jackson County to ease caseloads. G.L. v. Stangler, 873 F. Supp. 252 (W.D. Mo. 1994)

In response, a new settlement agreement was reached in 1994, following the assessments of an expert panel. The settlement mandated such improvements as training for foster parents and mandatory criminal history and child abuse checks for prospective foster families. In 1995, a monitoring plan was developed in addition to semi-annual compliance reports thereafter.

Based on defendants' substantial compliance with components of the consent decree, in 2000, the parties renegotiated the decree, allowing the state to exit from some provisions. On January 30, 2001, the court approved an Amended Decree and Operational Guide. The amended decree created a permanent community quality assurance committee, which was to take over system monitoring once DFS reached substantial compliance and exited from the decree.

Over the next ten years, with court oversight, DFS successfully implemented all of the reforms required by prior court order. On February 1, 2006, the court conditionally dismissed the case, court oversight officially ended, and the state agreed to keep in place until 2009 the policies, practices and staff positions created as a result of the lawsuit.

Summary Authors

Ariana Fink (10/25/2012)

People


Judge(s)

Clark, Russell Gentry (Missouri)

Oliver, John Watkins (Missouri)

Whipple, Dean (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Burns-Bucklew, Loretta E. (Missouri)

Dahlberg, Robin L. (New York)

Hansen, Christopher A. (New York)

Lambiase, Susan (New York)

Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York)

O'Donnell, Thomas P. (Missouri)

Rich, Fred B. (Missouri)

Judge(s)

Clark, Russell Gentry (Missouri)

Oliver, John Watkins (Missouri)

Whipple, Dean (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Burns-Bucklew, Loretta E. (Missouri)

Dahlberg, Robin L. (New York)

Hansen, Christopher A. (New York)

Lambiase, Susan (New York)

Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York)

O'Donnell, Thomas P. (Missouri)

Rich, Fred B. (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Hawke, Nancie D. (Missouri)

Keller, Paul T. (Missouri)

Marmion, Angela S. (Missouri)

Presson, Robert L. (Missouri)

Other Attorney(s)

Agniel, Sheila (Missouri)

Lawrence, Harriet J. (Missouri)

Shapiro, Marilyn (Missouri)

Tharp, Donald R. (Missouri)

Wynes, Timothy Alan (Iowa)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Lhamon v. Schulze

Feb. 1, 2006 Docket

Amended Complaint

G.L. v. Stangler

Oct. 26, 1979 Complaint

Memorandum (Regarding Stipulation)

G.I. v. Zumwalt

564 F.Supp. 1030

March 21, 1983 Order/Opinion

Memorandum and Orders Directing Further Proceedings

G.I. v. Zumwalt

734 F.Supp. 365

Feb. 20, 1990 Order/Opinion
213

Order

G.L. v. Stangler

873 F.Supp. 252

Dec. 14, 1994 Order/Opinion

Amended Modified Consent Decree

G.L. v. Stangler

Jan. 30, 2001 Settlement Agreement
289

Order

G.L. v. Stangler

Aug. 23, 2003 Order/Opinion
313

Order of Dismissal upon Conditions without Prejudice

Feb. 1, 2006 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

G.L. v. Stangler: A Case Study in Court-Ordered Welfare Reform

Ellen Borgersen & Stephen Shapiro

May 1, 1997 http://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1343&context=jdr

MO - G.L. v. Sherman

Children's Rights

In 1977, Children’s Rights joined Legal Aid of Western Missouri and local advocates in a class action to reform the grossly inadequate child welfare system in Jackson County, Missouri. The Federal C… Feb. 1, 2006 https://www.childrensrights.org/class_action/missouri-gl-v-sherman/

G.L. v. Sherman

National Center for Youth Law

In this class action, plaintiffs sought to establish the federal constitutional and statutory rights of foster children to be protected from harm and to receive appropriate treatment while in state c… https://youthlaw.org/case/g-l-v-sherman/

Docket

Last updated May 13, 2022

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Missouri

Case Type(s):

Child Welfare

Special Collection(s):

Court-ordered receiverships

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 25, 1977

Closing Date: Feb. 1, 2006

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Children who have been placed in and continue to reside in Missouri foster care homes

Plaintiff Type(s):

City/County Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Legal Services/Legal Aid

Children's Rights, Inc.

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Missouri Division of Family Services, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1983 - 2006

Content of Injunction:

Receivership

Hire

Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols

Reporting

Monitoring

Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)

Issues

General:

Failure to train

Family abuse and neglect

Family reunification

Foster care (benefits, training)

Funding

Neglect by staff

Sanitation / living conditions

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Timeliness of case assignment

Totality of conditions

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Mental health care, unspecified

Type of Facility:

Government-run

Benefit Source:

Medicaid

Medicare