Case: Burgos v. DCFS

1:75-cv-03974 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

Filed Date: Nov. 20, 1975

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On November 20, 1975, this class action was filed by several Puerto Rican parents in the metropolitan Chicago area, who alleged that they and their children, who were or had been in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), were being discriminated against based on their race and national origin. They were represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, and sought injunctive relief under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit was filed…

On November 20, 1975, this class action was filed by several Puerto Rican parents in the metropolitan Chicago area, who alleged that they and their children, who were or had been in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), were being discriminated against based on their race and national origin. They were represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, and sought injunctive relief under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, against DCFS and several of its officers.

The suit resulted in a Consent Decree, dated January 14, 1977, wherein DCFS agreed to make appropriate services and documents available in Spanish and to hire bilingual employees to work in certain areas. Spanish documents, including forms and informational brochures, were to be made available in numbers proportional to the Spanish-speaking community. The Decree required all Hispanic clients be informed of their rights under the Decree and how to maintain those rights. The Decree required that Spanish-language signs announcing the availability of these services in Spanish be posted in all metro-Chicago DCFS offices, displaying a phone number where a bilingual ombudsperson could be reached. It required DFCS to place children whose first language was Spanish with Spanish-speaking foster parents. Where bilingual social workers were not available, the Decree required that social workers assigned to Spanish-speaking clients be accompanied by an interpreter.

According to a summary of the Burgos Consent Decree, available here, the Court issued an agreed order in December of 1990 indicating that the DCFS was not in compliance with the Decree and appointing a Special Master. The Special Master prepared a compliance report, which led to the March 1992 the appointment of a permanent Court Monitor to oversee DCFS' compliance with the Decree. The docket last mentions the Monitor in 1999, and so it is unclear whether this position still exists. Also in the mid-1990s, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) took over representation of families in the Burgos litigation. After assuming control of the case, MALDEF encountered difficulty accessing information to monitor DCFS's compliance with the consent decree. The Consent Decree did not have an expiration date.

In 2019, there was a minor uptick in activity following a ProPublica investigation into DCFS compliance with the consent decree. The investigation revealed systemic compliance issues and focused on the tragic story of one Spanish-speaking undocumented father whose children were assigned to a household that spoke primarily Slovak at home. The father experienced difficulty bonding with his children, in part due to the language barrier. A DCFS inspector general report later found that the father's Burgos rights were violated, but he was deported and his children continue to reside in the US (the article is available here). According to their reporting, nearly 300 Burgos violations had occurred since 2005. This number is likely an undercount because data regarding race, ethnicity, and language preferences was reportedly unreliable and even deliberately fabricated in some cases. Following the publication of the story, MALDEF filed their first court appearance since 2006.

The publication of the story also led to a reassignment of the case. The case had long been assigned to Judge James B. Zagel. By 2019, Judge Zagel was on senior status and no longer an active judge on the Court. On June 25, 2019, the Executive Committee of the Court ordered the case to be reassigned from Judge Zagel to Judge Gary Feinerman for future proceedings.

Although it appeared that plaintiffs' counsel were considering reopening the litigation, as of November 2021, there was little docket activity aside from attorney appearances.

In August 2021, ProPublica revisited their earlier investigation finding that DCFS continued to violate its requirements under Burgos (the article is available here). MALDEF again made an appearance before the Court following the reporting.

Summary Authors

Alex Colbert-Taylor (7/16/2013)

Gabrielle Simeck (11/5/2021)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/14983773/parties/burgos-v-dcfs/


Judge(s)

Feinerman, Gary Scott (Illinois)

McMillen, Thomas Roberts (Illinois)

Zagel, James Block (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Alop, Alan A (Illinois)

Mendoza, Patricia (Illinois)

Meza, Ricardo (Illinois)

Rivas, Alonzo (Illinois)

Valdez, Maria G. (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Goodman, Karen R. (Illinois)

Purves, Samuel A (Illinois)

Judge(s)

Feinerman, Gary Scott (Illinois)

McMillen, Thomas Roberts (Illinois)

Zagel, James Block (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Alop, Alan A (Illinois)

Mendoza, Patricia (Illinois)

Meza, Ricardo (Illinois)

Rivas, Alonzo (Illinois)

Valdez, Maria G. (Illinois)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Goodman, Karen R. (Illinois)

Purves, Samuel A (Illinois)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:75-cv-03974

Docket [PACER]

Sept. 1, 2010

Sept. 1, 2010

Docket

1:75-cv-03974

Consent Decree

Burgos v. Illinois DCFS

Jan. 14, 1977

Jan. 14, 1977

Settlement Agreement

1:75-cv-03974

Burgos Consent Decree [informational brochure for DCFS clients]

No Court

April 11, 2011

April 11, 2011

Press Release

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/14983773/burgos-v-dcfs/

Last updated Aug. 5, 2022, 3:21 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COURT'S MONITOR'S REPORT (Exhibits) ; notice of filing. (fce) (Entered: 12/20/1993)

Dec. 17, 1993

Dec. 17, 1993

PACER

JOINT MOTION to recommend appointment of a new monitor (Attachment/Exhibits) ; Notice of motion (fce)

Sept. 14, 1995

Sept. 14, 1995

PACER

MINUTE ORDER of 9/14/95 by Hon. James B. Zagel : Granting joint motion to recommend appointment of a new monitor [0-1]. The appointment of Ruben Castillo as special master is vacated and substituted with that of Layla Suleiman. No notice (fce)

Sept. 14, 1995

Sept. 14, 1995

PACER

MOTION by plaintiffs for substitution of counsel Patricia Mendoza ; Notice of motion (eav)

July 12, 1996

July 12, 1996

PACER

MINUTE ORDER of 7/12/96 by Hon. James B. Zagel : Granting plaintiffs motion for substitution of counsel Patricia Mendoza. [0-1] Mailed notice (eav)

July 12, 1996

July 12, 1996

PACER

MAILED Rule 3.14 letter to Patricia Mendoza (eav)

July 17, 1996

July 17, 1996

PACER
2

ATTORNEY APPEARANCE for plaintiffs by Patricia Mendoza with Rule 39 Affidavit (eav) (Entered: 08/16/1996)

Aug. 15, 1996

Aug. 15, 1996

PACER
3

MOTION by plaintiffs to extend court monitor appointment (Exhibits); Notice of motion (hp) (Entered: 08/12/1997)

July 25, 1997

July 25, 1997

PACER
4

MINUTE ORDER of 8/7/97 by Hon. James B. Zagel : Plaintiffs' motion to extend court monitor appointment to and including 10/31/97 is granted. [3-1] Mailed notice (hp) (Entered: 08/12/1997)

Aug. 7, 1997

Aug. 7, 1997

PACER
5

AGREED MOTION by plaintiffs' to present monitor's report, workplan, and other relief (Attachments); Notice. (vmj) (Entered: 11/26/1999)

Nov. 12, 1999

Nov. 12, 1999

PACER
6

MINUTE ORDER of 11/18/99 by Hon. James B. Zagel: Plaintiffs' motion to present monitor's report, workplan, and other relief is granted [5-1]. No notice (vmj) (Entered: 11/26/1999)

Nov. 18, 1999

Nov. 18, 1999

PACER
7

MINUTE ORDER of 12/1/99 by Hon. James B. Zagel: (Entered Agreed Order to file Monitor's report and Workplan, instanter, and for provision of services). No notice (vmj) (Entered: 01/28/2000)

Dec. 1, 1999

Dec. 1, 1999

PACER
8

MOTION by plaintiffs to withdraw Patricia Mendoza and to substitute counsel Maria Valdez and Alonzo Rivas ; Notice of motion (eav) (Entered: 07/31/2003)

July 17, 2003

July 17, 2003

PACER
10

ATTORNEY APPEARANCE for plaintiffs by Maria Valdez and Alonzo Rivas (eav) (Entered: 07/31/2003)

July 17, 2003

July 17, 2003

PACER
9

MINUTE ORDER of 7/22/03 by Hon. James B. Zagel : Motion to withdraw and substitute counsel is granted. [8-1] The appearance of Patricia Mendoza is withdrawn. No notices mailed (eav) (Entered: 07/31/2003)

July 22, 2003

July 22, 2003

PACER
11

MOTION by Plaintiffs to withdraw and substitute counsel(gma, ) Additional attachment(s) added on 5/20/2005 (gma, ). (Entered: 05/20/2005)

2 Attorney Appearance

View on PACER

May 19, 2005

May 19, 2005

PACER
12

NOTICE of Motion by Alonzo Rivas for presentment of MOTION by Plaintiffs to withdraw and substitute counsel 11 before Honorable James B. Zagel on 5/24/2005 at 10:15 AM. (gma, ) (Entered: 05/20/2005)

May 19, 2005

May 19, 2005

RECAP
13

MINUTE entry before Judge James B. Zagel : Motion to withdraw 11 the appearance of Maria Valdez as attorney for all the plaintiffs is granted. Mailed notice (eav, ) (Entered: 06/01/2005)

May 24, 2005

May 24, 2005

PACER
14

MINUTE entry before Judge James B. Zagel : MOTION by Plaintiffs Leopoldo Burgos, Iris Burgos, Miguel Mendez, Idanina Mendez to substitute attorney is granted. MOTION by Plaintiffs Leopoldo Burgos, Iris Burgos, Miguel Mendez, Idanina Mendez to withdraw as attorney 11 is granted. Maria Valdez terminated. (drw, ) (Entered: 03/26/2006)

March 24, 2006

March 24, 2006

PACER
15

ATTORNEY Appearance for Plaintiffs Leopoldo Burgos, Iris Burgos, Miguel Mendez, Idanina Mendez by Ricardo Meza; Notice. (vkd, ) (Entered: 08/08/2006)

Aug. 4, 2006

Aug. 4, 2006

PACER
16

MOTION by counsel for Plaintiffs Iris Burgos, Leopoldo Burgos to withdraw as attorney (Meza, Ricardo) (Entered: 08/27/2010)

Aug. 27, 2010

Aug. 27, 2010

PACER
17

NOTICE of Motion by Ricardo Meza for presentment of motion to withdraw as attorney 16 before Honorable James B. Zagel on 9/2/2010 at 10:15 AM. (Meza, Ricardo) (Entered: 08/27/2010)

Aug. 27, 2010

Aug. 27, 2010

PACER
18

MINUTE entry before Honorable James B. Zagel:Motion to withdraw as attorney 16 is granted. The appearance of attorney Ricardo Meza is withdrawn.Mailed notice (drw, ) (Entered: 09/01/2010)

Sept. 1, 2010

Sept. 1, 2010

PACER
19

ATTORNEY Appearance for Plaintiffs Iris Burgos, Leopoldo Burgos, Idanina Mendez, Miguel Mendez by Griselda Vega Samuel (Vega Samuel, Griselda) (Entered: 06/18/2019)

June 18, 2019

June 18, 2019

RECAP
20

MOTION by Attorney Alonzo Rivas to withdraw as attorney for Iris Burgos, Leopoldo Burgos, Idanina Mendez, Miguel Mendez. No party information provided (Vega Samuel, Griselda) (Entered: 06/24/2019)

June 24, 2019

June 24, 2019

RECAP
21

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ORDER: Case reassigned to the Honorable Gary Feinerman for all further proceedings. Honorable James B. Zagel no longer assigned to the case. Signed by Executive Committee on 6/25/2019.(cc, ) (Entered: 06/25/2019)

June 25, 2019

June 25, 2019

RECAP
22

NOTICE of Motion by Griselda Vega Samuel for presentment of motion to withdraw as attorney 20 before Honorable Gary Feinerman on 7/2/2019 at 09:00 AM. (Vega Samuel, Griselda) (Entered: 06/25/2019)

June 25, 2019

June 25, 2019

RECAP
23

MINUTE entry before the Honorable Gary Feinerman:Motion to withdraw as attorney 20 is granted. Attorney Alonzo Rivas is terminated as counsel for Plaintiffs. Motion hearing set for 7/2/2019 20 is stricken. Mailed notice. (jlj, ) (Entered: 06/26/2019)

June 26, 2019

June 26, 2019

RECAP
24

ATTORNEY Appearance for Plaintiffs Iris Burgos, Leopoldo Burgos, Idanina Mendez, Miguel Mendez by Francisco Fernandez Del Castillo (Fernandez Del Castillo, Francisco) (Entered: 10/06/2021)

Oct. 6, 2021

Oct. 6, 2021

RECAP
25

ATTORNEY Appearance for Defendants Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Marc D. Smith by Barbara Lynn Greenspan (Greenspan, Barbara) (Entered: 10/06/2021)

Oct. 6, 2021

Oct. 6, 2021

RECAP

Case Details

State / Territory: Illinois

Case Type(s):

Child Welfare

Key Dates

Filing Date: Nov. 20, 1975

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Class of Puerto Rican parents in the metropolitan Chicago area, whose children were or had been in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

MALDEF

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

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: unknown

Order Duration: 1977 - None

Content of Injunction:

Auditing

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Discrimination Prohibition

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

Hire

Monitor/Master

Monitoring

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Recordkeeping

Reporting

Issues

General:

Disparate Impact

Disparate Treatment

Family reunification

Foster care (benefits, training)

Language access/needs

Parents (visitation, involvement)

Discrimination-basis:

Family discrimination

Language discrimination

National origin discrimination

Race discrimination

Language:

Spanish

National Origin/Ethnicity:

Hispanic