Case: Braam v. State of Washington

98-01570 | Washington state trial court

Filed Date: Dec. 24, 1998

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

Plaintiffs, thirteen current and former foster children, brought suit against the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) in the Washington state Whatcom County Superior Court in August 1998. The plaintiffs brought claims under the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, 42 U.S. C. §§ 671 et seq, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and numerous state statutes and regulations. We have some documents related to this case, but much of our information is from t…

Plaintiffs, thirteen current and former foster children, brought suit against the Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) in the Washington state Whatcom County Superior Court in August 1998. The plaintiffs brought claims under the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, 42 U.S. C. §§ 671 et seq, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and numerous state statutes and regulations. We have some documents related to this case, but much of our information is from the relevant National Center for Youth Law webpage, and from a website set up by the oversight panel that implemented the settlement agreement.

In July 2000, the plaintiffs moved to certify a class of all children who are now or will be in the custody of DSHS foster care system and who were placed in three or more placements. In June 2001, Judge Nichols certified the class. Defendant DSHS moved for summary judgment. As a result, the trial court dismissed all claims based on procedural due process, the Washington State Constitution, and most claims based on state and federal child welfare and disability statutes.

The parties agreed to try the case before a jury, and following a seven week trial in October 2001, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs. The trial court entered a broad injunction, mandating the recruitment of new foster parents, notification prior to placement changes, arrangements to improve education, additional training and institutional support of foster parents, and increased emphasis on the preservation of sibling relationships. The trial court ordered the plaintiffs to monitor compliance.

The State appealed to the Court of Appeals, which certified the case for appeal to the Washington Supreme Court. See Braam v. State, 81 P.3d 851 (Wash. 2003). Judge Chambers for the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that foster children possessed substantive due process rights that the State was required to respect, but there was erroneous jury instruction on the State's culpability.

Upon remand, the trial court ordered the parties to mediation. The parties reached a settlement in July 2004. The settlement provided for an independent panel to collaborate with DSHS to establish benchmarks for in six identified areas. The panel released an implementation plan in February 2006. Additionally, the panel issued monitoring reports every six months.

In January 2008, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement, based on the State's failures to complete steps in the implementation plan. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on June 30, 2008, finding the State had failed to comply with the plan. In June 2009, the parties reached an agreement to provide for fees and costs for the remainder of the settlement agreement.

In 2011, DSHS and the plaintiffs modified the settlement agreement and extended the agreement until December 31, 2013. The revised agreement provides for the oversight panel to continue monitoring through 2012, and provide annual monitor reports. The agreement remains in effect after this monitoring ceases, however.

Summary Authors

Elizabeth Homan (2/10/2013)

People


Judge(s)

Alexander, Gerry (Washington)

Bridge, Bobbe (Washington)

Ireland, Faith (Washington)

Johnson, Charles W. (Washington)

Madsen, Barbara (Washington)

Owens, Susan (Washington)

Sanders, Richard B. (Washington)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Farris, Timothy (Washington)

Grimm, William H. (Washington)

Laird, Jennie (Washington)

Judge(s)

Alexander, Gerry (Washington)

Bridge, Bobbe (Washington)

Ireland, Faith (Washington)

Johnson, Charles W. (Washington)

Madsen, Barbara (Washington)

Owens, Susan (Washington)

Sanders, Richard B. (Washington)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Farris, Timothy (Washington)

Grimm, William H. (Washington)

Laird, Jennie (Washington)

McCann, Erin Shea (Washington)

Midgley, John (Washington)

Trupin, Casey (Washington)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Ahluwalia, Uma S. (Maryland)

Braddock, Dennis J. (Washington)

Clark, William G. (Washington)

Huber, Sheila Malloy (Washington)

Robinson, Denise Revels (Washington)

Tillett, Rochelle (Washington)

Wayno, Carrie Hoon (Washington)

Williams, William L. (Washington)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

72598–5

Order

Braam v. State

Washington state supreme court

81 P.3d 851

Dec. 18, 2003

Dec. 18, 2003

Order/Opinion

98-01570

Final Settlement

July 31, 2004

July 31, 2004

Settlement Agreement

98-01570

Fifth Amended Complaint

Oct. 4, 2004

Oct. 4, 2004

Complaint

98-01570

Revised Settlement and Exit Agreement

Oct. 31, 2011

Oct. 31, 2011

Settlement Agreement

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 18, 2022, 3:02 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Washington

Case Type(s):

Child Welfare

Key Dates

Filing Date: Dec. 24, 1998

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiffs are a class of all children who are now or will be in the custody of Washington state Department of Social and Health Services foster care system and who were placed in three or more placements.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

National Center for Youth Law

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Washington State (Whatcom), State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.

Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 620 et seq.

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 2004 - 2013

Content of Injunction:

Reporting

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Monitoring

Monitor/Master

Issues

General:

Adoption

Classification / placement

Counseling

Education

Failure to train

Family reunification

Foster care (benefits, training)

Funding

Juveniles

Parents (visitation, involvement)

Poverty/homelessness

Siblings (visitation, placement)

Special education

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Mental health care, general

Benefit Source:

Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act