Case: Coker v. Bowen

1:86-cv-02448 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: Sept. 2, 1986

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On September 2, 1986, Plaintiffs, three homeless families with dependent children, together with the National Coalition for the Homeless, filled a lawsuit in the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia, against the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), in his official capacity, and the HSS. The Plaintiffs alleged that HSS had failed to properly monitor and enforce the compliance of States participating in the federal Emergency Assistance to Families program (EA…

On September 2, 1986, Plaintiffs, three homeless families with dependent children, together with the National Coalition for the Homeless, filled a lawsuit in the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia, against the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), in his official capacity, and the HSS. The Plaintiffs alleged that HSS had failed to properly monitor and enforce the compliance of States participating in the federal Emergency Assistance to Families program (EAF), established pursuant to Title IV-A of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. S 601 et seq. (the "Act"), and which was designed to provide prompt access to emergency shelter assistance for homeless families.

The complaint alleged that HHS had not performed the specific actions required by the Act and its implementing regulations to assess each state's compliance with its approved plans, and had failed to take any action adequate to ensure that states actually provided emergency shelter assistance to eligible homeless families. The claim was brought under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§706(1)-(2), which requires Federal agencies to comply with their administrative regulations and which forbid arbitrary and capricious enforcement. The Plaintiffs sought a declaration from the court that HHS was obligated to ensure States adhere to their commitments relating to the EAF program, and an injunction compelling HHS to ensure participating states provided sufficient funding to guarantee emergency shelter assistance.

On April 11, 1989, the District Court (Judge John Garrett Penn) granted HHS's Motion to Dismiss, finding that the Plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. Coker v. Bowen, 715 F.Supp. 383 (D. D.C. 1989). The Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which on May 4, 1990 (Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg), affirmed the lower court's decision. The Appellate Court found that the Administrative Procedure Act did not create a private cause of action under which a suit could be brought to demand judicial review of a federal agency's failure to enforce statutory provisions.

The case is closed.

Summary Authors

Alex Colbert-Taylor (6/25/2013)

People


Judge(s)

Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (District of Columbia)

Penn, John Garrett (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Manishin, Glenn B. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (District of Columbia)

Penn, John Garrett (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Manishin, Glenn B. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Dec. 31, 1986 Docket
1

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Sept. 2, 1986 Complaint

Memorandum

715 F.Supp. 383

April 11, 1989 Order/Opinion

Opinion for the Court

Coker v. Sullivan

U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

902 F.2d 84

May 4, 1990 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

Public Benefits/Government Services

Key Dates

Filing Date: Sept. 2, 1986

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Three homeless families with dependent children, together with the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Denied

Defendants

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services , Federal

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

General:

Emergency shelter

Placement in shelters

Poverty/homelessness

Type of Facility:

Government-run