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Case: Clark K. v. Guinn

2:06-cv-01068 | U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada

Filed Date: Aug. 30, 2006

Closed Date: 2009

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On August 30, 2006, a group of ten children in the Nevada foster system, seeking class action certification for all children in or at risk of entering the Clark County, NV foster system, filed this class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. The plaintiffs filed under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA), the Child the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), the Medicaid Act, and state law. The plaintiffs sued a num…

On August 30, 2006, a group of ten children in the Nevada foster system, seeking class action certification for all children in or at risk of entering the Clark County, NV foster system, filed this class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. The plaintiffs filed under 42 U.S.C. 1983, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (AACWA), the Child the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), the Medicaid Act, and state law. The plaintiffs sued a number of parties, including the state of Nevada, the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, the Nevada Bureau of Services for Child Care of the Division of Child and Family Services, the Clark County Department of Family Services, the Clark County Board of County Commissioners, and Clark County.

The plaintiffs, represented by the National Center for Youth Law and private counsel, asked the court to declare that the defendants had not met their obligations to children in the Clark County foster system, issue a permanent injunction against the foster system, provide for remedial relief to ensure that the defendants complied with their legal obligations toward foster children in the future, and award attorneys fees.

Under federal law, the plaintiffs alleged that Nevada had not placed children in quality placements that comply with national standards, had not provided safe settings that were most family-like, and had not provided adequate health and education records to foster parents or providers at the time of placement. The plaintiffs further alleged that Nevada violated CAPTA by not providing each abused or neglected child with a guardian ad litem in judicial proceedings, and violated the Medicaid Act by failing to provide mandatory Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment services so children would be diagnosed with health conditions and receive necessary treatment.

The plaintiffs further alleged that the Clark County foster system had violated substantive due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment regarding protection from harm while in government custody, right to living environments that protect safety, and other causes. Major causes of action under state law included placing children for extended periods of time in a group facility that was overcrowded and unlicensed, leaving children in dangerous placements with inadequate supervision, and putting children back in homes where they had been harmed.

On September 29, 2006, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Division of Child and Family Services filed a motion to dismiss. On December 11, 2006, the governor of Arizona also filed a motion to dismiss. On January 3, 2007, the Clark County defendants also filed a motion to dismiss.

On May 14, 2007, the District Court (Judge Robert C. Jones) granted the governor's motion to dismiss and dismissed the State of Nevada and the Department of Family Services from the action. The court held that there was not enough of a connection between the office of the Governor and the harms to foster children, so the court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims against the Governor as the representative of the State of Nevada. The court denied the motion to dismiss by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Division of Child and Family Services. The court also granted in part and denied in part the motion to dismiss by the Clark County defendants. The order upheld the plaintiffs' federal claims based on The Federal Adoption Assistance Act with respect to timely case plans, health and educational records, and notice of hearings, CAPTA with respect to providing guardians ad litem, screening and treatment requirements of the Medicaid Act. The court also deferred ruling on class certification. 2007 WL 1435428.

On June 14, 2007, the plaintiffs filed the second amended complaint seeking class action certification on behalf of children in or at risk of entering the Clark County foster system against the above-named parties, excluding the governor, State of Nevada, and Department of Family Services. The plaintiffs alleged violations under the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, CAPTA, the Medicaid Act, and state law, and asked for declaratory and injunctive relief.

On September 4, 2007, Judge Jones granted defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' claims under § 1983 that Nevada had failed to enforce state statutes providing for the plaintiff's welfare, noting that even if state law says a service is mandatory, that is not a constitutionally protected interest. Judge Jones also dismissed plaintiff's claim that by failing to follow to its state plan under CAPTA and the Adoption Assistance Act, the state programs using federal funding breached a contract with the federal government. The court noted that while plaintiffs may be third-party beneficiaries to the state plan agreement, they have failed to establish that agreements are contracts. 616 F. Supp. 2d 1038.

On March 12, 2008, Judge Robert Johnston, the magistrate judge, ordered the defendants to disclose plaintiffs' foster system case files to plaintiffs' attorneys for the purposes of the trial. The court required the parties to enter a protective order to maintain the privacy of the case file information, and determined that the county was not required to provide documents that were not in its possession as part of discovery.

On March 28, 2008, the plaintiffs renewed their motion for class certification. On July 10, 2008, Judge Jones issued an order dismissing the motion, which said that the plaintiffs had enough members to make a class (numerosity), but did not show enough commonality of interest, typicality of plaintiff type, or meet the adequacy of representation requirement by showing sufficient evidence of a pattern or practice of systemwide violations. The plaintiffs appealed this decision on class certification to the Ninth Circuit.

On October 24, 2008, Judge Jones denied the defendant's motion for reconsideration of the magistrate judge's order allowing discovery to include non-privileged information in the case files of children who have been abused, neglected, or died while in custody of Clark County. Judge Jones stated that this information was appropriate for the plaintiffs to have in the process of trying to certify the class.

On October 27, 2009, the parties jointly moved for dismissal with prejudice and withdrew all motions and appeals, including the pending appeal with the Ninth Circuit for class certification. The plaintiffs and defendants agreed each would pay its own attorney fees and costs. The foster children plaintiffs had all aged out of the system or were adopted. This has been a challenge for attempts to reform the foster system in Nevada through litigation, as cases are often challenged by lengthy delays in proceedings.

Summary Authors

Kate Craddock (11/23/2015)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6033608/parties/clark-k-v-kenny-c-guinn/


Judge(s)

Johnston, Robert J. (Nevada)

Jones, Robert Clive (Nevada)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Alverson, J. Bruce (Nevada)

Ancar, Katina (California)

Danis, Mark Wilmot (California)

Davis, Sarah Nicole (California)

Grimm, William L. (California)

Kaiser, Aurora V. (California)

Liotta, Erin (California)

Londen, Jack W. (California)

Judge(s)

Johnston, Robert J. (Nevada)

Jones, Robert Clive (Nevada)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Alverson, J. Bruce (Nevada)

Ancar, Katina (California)

Danis, Mark Wilmot (California)

Davis, Sarah Nicole (California)

Grimm, William L. (California)

Kaiser, Aurora V. (California)

Liotta, Erin (California)

Londen, Jack W. (California)

Martyna, Bryn (California)

Ortiz, Dinah Ximena (California)

Sanchez, Sonya U. (California)

Schulman, Gregory (Nevada)

Sturman, Gloria J. (Nevada)

Welch, Leecia (California)

Wilson, Karie N. (Nevada)

Wolfenzon, Bruno (Nevada)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Anderson, Linda C. (Nevada)

Blum, Jonathan D. (Nevada)

Foley, Margaret G. (Nevada)

Geinzer, Martina (Nevada)

Lefebvre, Alan (Nevada)

Peacock, Sarah Gaskill (Nevada)

Other Attorney(s)

Long, Jeffrey C. (Nevada)

Weisner, Deann (Nevada)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2:06-cv-01068

Docket [PACER]

Clark K. v. Guinn

Oct. 27, 2009

Oct. 27, 2009

Docket
1

2:06-cv-01068

Complaint

Clark K. v Guinn

Aug. 30, 2006

Aug. 30, 2006

Complaint
57

2:06-cv-01068

First Amended Complaint (Class Action Alleged)

Oct. 19, 2006

Oct. 19, 2006

Complaint
74

2:06-cv-01068

Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Motion

Nov. 21, 2006

Nov. 21, 2006

Pleading / Motion / Brief
134

2:06-cv-01068

Order

May 14, 2007

May 14, 2007

Order/Opinion
142

2:06-cv-01068

Second Amended Complaint (Class Action Alleged)

June 14, 2007

June 14, 2007

Complaint
161

2:06-cv-01068

Order

Clark K. v. Willden

Sept. 4, 2007

Sept. 4, 2007

Order/Opinion
186

2:06-cv-01068

Order

March 12, 2008

March 12, 2008

Order/Opinion
195

2:06-cv-01068

Plaintiffs' Notice of Motion, Motion and Memorandum of Points of Authorities in Support of Renewed Motion for Class Certification

Clark K. v. Willden

March 28, 2008

March 28, 2008

Pleading / Motion / Brief
243

2:06-cv-01068

Order Denying Plaintiffs' Renewed Motion for Class Certification

Clark K. v. Willden

July 10, 2008

July 10, 2008

Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6033608/clark-k-v-kenny-c-guinn/

Last updated Dec. 5, 2022, 3:03 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
134

ORDER denying 48 Motion to Dismiss. Granting 95 Motion to Dismiss. granting in part and denying in part 104 Motion to Dismiss. Governor Gibbons dismissed from this action. (See 48 pages of order for specifics) Signed by Judge Robert C. Jones. (AXM)

May 14, 2007

May 14, 2007

RECAP
161

ORDER Granting 136 Partial Motion to Dismiss. Motion 140 Joinder is Granted. Signed by Judge Robert C. Jones on 9/4/07. (Copies have been distributed pursuant to the NEF - AXM)

Sept. 4, 2007

Sept. 4, 2007

RECAP

Case Details

State / Territory: Nevada

Case Type(s):

Child Welfare

Special Collection(s):

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 30, 2006

Closing Date: 2009

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiffs are children in the foster system in Clark County, NV.

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: Denied

Defendants

State of Nevada (Carson City), State

Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (Carson City), State

Bureau of Services for Child Care of the Division of Child and Family Services (Carson City), State

Clark County Department of Family Services (Las Vegas, Clark), County

Clark County (Clark), County

Clark County Board of County Commissioners (Las Vegas, Clark), County

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

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

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5101 et seq.

State law

Medicaid, 42 U.S.C §1396 (Title XIX of the Social Security Act)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Form of Settlement:

Voluntary Dismissal

Issues

General:

Education

Failure to supervise

Failure to train

Foster care (benefits, training)

Juveniles

Pattern or Practice

Sanitation / living conditions

Siblings (visitation, placement)

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Totality of conditions

Medical/Mental Health:

Dental care

Medical care, general

Mental health care, general

Benefit Source:

Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act

Medicaid