Case: Bates v. Johnson

1:84-cv-10054 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

Filed Date: Nov. 20, 1984

Closed Date: 1997

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Case Summary

On November 20, 1984, parents and guardians of children in custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) filed a class action lawsuit against DCFS under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Social Security Act in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the Loyola Childlaw Clinic, the Family Defense Center, the Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and the Legal Assistance Foundat…

On November 20, 1984, parents and guardians of children in custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) filed a class action lawsuit against DCFS under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Social Security Act in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the Loyola Childlaw Clinic, the Family Defense Center, the Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago asked the court for injunctive relief, challenging Defendants' one hour per month visitation limit as a violation of the Social Security Act and the First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Just prior to a determination on Defendant's motion to dismiss, the parties entered into a consent decree which expanded the visitation policy. Under the consent decree, entered June 5, 1986, Defendant agreed to allow weekly visits between Plaintiffs and their children, to provide Plaintiffs' counsel with statistical information regarding visitation plans, to provide notice to class members regarding the visitation policy, and to periodically remind caseworkers of the updated visitation policy. The decree was to remain in effect for a two year period.

On March 16, 1987, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Contempt alleging that Defendant had violated virtually every provision of the decree. Defendants did not deny the allegations, and in February of 1989 refused to agree to a new consent decree to resolve the contempt motion.

Plaintiffs next asked the court to enter an emergency order establishing a six-year period during which Defendant would be required to implement weekly visitation. Plaintiffs also sought the appointment of a special master to monitor Defendant's compliance with the decree and to submit periodic reports to the court, imposition of various penalty payments for any future non-compliance, and reimbursement of Plaintiffs' attorney fees and costs.

Defendant agreed that Plaintiffs were entitled to attorney's fees incurred in bringing the contempt motion, but argued that because DCFS had a unilateral right to abandon its visitation policy and adopt a new rule, its principal obligation under the decree was terminated. Plaintiffs' only option was to file a new action. Defendant further argued that compliance with Plaintiffs' proposed new consent order was beyond its capability, and would interfere with DCFS's management of its limited resources and with its potential obligations under other pending litigation. Defendant also argued that imposition of the Proposed Order would be an impermissible modification of the terms of the decree. The Court rejected Defendant's arguments and specifically found that Defendant had acted in bad faith. Nevertheless, the court was unwilling to impose the detailed order suggested by Plaintiffs.

On June 29, 1989, the District Court (Judge Paul E. Plunkett) devised and imposed its own sanctions. These required Defendant to reimburse Plaintiffs for all reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred in all of Plaintiffs' efforts to implement the consent decree, extended the original decree for a period of two years, required Defendant to report to the court within 60 days, and required Defendant to designate a liaison whom Plaintiffs could contact regarding any problems in securing Defendant's compliance with the decree. The case ended upon expiration of the extended decree.

Summary Authors

Gregory Pitt (7/9/2012)

People


Judge(s)

Plunkett, Paul Edward (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Boyer, Bruce A. (Illinois)

Heybach, Laurene Marie (Illinois)

Katz, Nancy (Illinois)

Redleaf, Diane L. (Illinois)

Wheelock, Richard M. (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Coughlan, Margaret E. (Illinois)

Getzendanner, Susan Christine O'Meara (Illinois)

Giroux, Paula J. (Illinois)

Greenspan, Barbara Lynn (Illinois)

Judge(s)

Plunkett, Paul Edward (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Boyer, Bruce A. (Illinois)

Heybach, Laurene Marie (Illinois)

Katz, Nancy (Illinois)

Redleaf, Diane L. (Illinois)

Wheelock, Richard M. (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Coughlan, Margaret E. (Illinois)

Getzendanner, Susan Christine O'Meara (Illinois)

Giroux, Paula J. (Illinois)

Greenspan, Barbara Lynn (Illinois)

Griffin, Gary Michael (Illinois)

Hall-Walker, Nancy K. (Illinois)

Krane, Hilary K. (Illinois)

Smith, Charles F. Jr. (Illinois)

Steimel, Danielle J. (Illinois)

Tchen, Christina M. (Illinois)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Greene, Brandon F. (Illinois)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Bates v. McDonald

Feb. 13, 1997 Docket

Memorandum Opinion and Order

1989 WL 75954, 1989 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 7658

June 29, 1989 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Bates v. McDonald

National Center for Youth Law

Plaintiffs challenged the practice of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) of routinely limiting visits between foster children and their parents to one hour per month. Plai… https://youthlaw.org/...

Legal Accountability in the Service-Based Welfare State: Lessons from Child Welfare Reform

Kathleen G. Noonan, Charles F. Sabel, William H. Simon

Current trends intensify the longstanding problem of how the rule of law should be institutionalized in the welfare state. Welfare programs are being redesigned to increase their capacities to adapt … June 1, 2009 http://papers.ssrn.com/...

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
286

AMENDED MOTION by plaintiffs for leave to withdraw attorneys Laurene Heybach and Richard Wheelock (eav) (Entered: 12/05/1996)

Dec. 4, 1996
287

ORDER regarding motion to withdraw attorneys Laurene Heybach and Richard Wheelock [286−1] (eav) (Entered: 12/05/1996)

Dec. 4, 1996
288

MINUTE ORDER of 12/4/96 by Hon. Wayne R. Andersen : Agreed motion to withdraw is granted. [286−1] Enter agreed order. The Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago "LAFC" and its attorneys Laurene M. Heybach and Richard Wheelock as of the date of this order are no longer counsel for the class. LAFC and its attorneys shall continue as counsel of record solely for the following purposes: (a) pursuing and collecting attorneys fees and costs owed to LAFC for legal assistance, as may be permitted by law; (b) representing individuals and participating in non−adversarial activities in accordance with 45 C.F.R. Section 1617.2 (effective 01/01/97). Mailed notice (eav) (Entered: 12/05/1996)

Dec. 4, 1996
289

MOTION by defendant to substitute attorneys Nancy K. Hall−Walker, Barbara L. Greenspan, Danielle J. Steimel and substitute pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(d)(1) Jess McDonald is the current Director of DCFS ; Notice of motion (Temporarily unavailable for docketing) (eav) (Entered: 02/14/1997)

Feb. 6, 1997
290

MINUTE ORDER of 2/13/97 by Hon. Paul E. Plunkett : Defendant's motion for leave to substitute counsel is granted. [289−1] Leave is granted to Christina M. Tchen and her colleagues at Skadden, Arps, Slate, meagher &Flom to withdraw as counsel for defendant and leave is granted to Assistant Attorney General Barbara L. Greenspan, Danielle Steimel, and Nancy Hall−Walker to file their appearance as substitute counsel for defendant. Telephoned notice (eav) (Entered: 02/14/1997)

Feb. 13, 1997
291

ATTORNEY APPEARANCE for defendant Jess McDonald by Nancy K. Hall−Walker, Barbara L. Greenspan, Danielle J. Steimel with Rule 39 Affidavit (eav) (Entered: 02/14/1997)

Feb. 13, 1997

State / Territory: Illinois

Case Type(s):

Child Welfare

Key Dates

Filing Date: Nov. 20, 1984

Closing Date: 1997

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Parents and guardians of children in custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 1989 - 1991

Content of Injunction:

Reporting

Issues

General:

Parents (visitation, involvement)