Case: Marisol A. v. Giuliani

1:95-cv-10533 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Filed Date: Dec. 13, 1995

Closed Date: Aug. 6, 2018

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This federal class action was brought by children in the custody of the New York City Child Welfare Administration ("CWA"), and children who, while not in the custody of CWA, are or will be at risk of abuse or neglect and whose status is known or should be known to CWA. It was filed on December 13, 1995 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by Children's Rights Inc., Lawyers for Children, and private counsel, sought class certification, …

This federal class action was brought by children in the custody of the New York City Child Welfare Administration ("CWA"), and children who, while not in the custody of CWA, are or will be at risk of abuse or neglect and whose status is known or should be known to CWA. It was filed on December 13, 1995 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by Children's Rights Inc., Lawyers for Children, and private counsel, sought class certification, declaratory and injunctive relief against both the city and the state (collectively, the defendants). The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants violated the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program of the Medicaid Act, the Multiethnic Placement Act of 1994, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and state law.

Specifically, the plaintiffs contend that the defendants systematically:

  • failed to protect the plaintiffs from abuse and neglect and to provide them and their families with appropriate, legally required services;

  • failed to appropriately accept reports of child abuse and neglect for investigation;

  • failed to investigate those reports of child abuse and neglect that are accepted in the time and manner required by law;

  • failed to provide mandated pre-placement preventive services to enable children at risk of being placed in foster care to remain at home safely with their families whenever possible;

  • failed to provide children in need of foster care placement with the least restrictive, most family-like placements designed to meet their individual needs;

  • failed to provide foster children, their birth families and their foster families with the services that are essential to ensuring that the children do not deteriorate in CWA's custody;

  • failed to provide foster children with disabilities with placements and services appropriate to their individual needs and necessary to allow these children fully to participate in the City's child welfare system;

  • failed to provide foster children with appropriate case management, case plans and services;

  • failed to provide children for whom adoption is appropriate with services necessary to ensure that they are adopted quickly;

  • failed to provide teenage children who will leave the foster care system to live on their own with services adequate to prepare them to live independently;

  • failed to provide foster children with the administrative, judicial and dispositional reviews to which they are legally entitled;

  • failed to provide caseworkers with sufficient training, support and supervision; and

  • failed to maintain an adequate information system to monitor, track and plan for children, and to manage the child welfare system effectively.
As a result of these systemic deficiencies, the plaintiffs contended that the defendants jeopardized their well being.

On June 18, 1996, District Judge Robert J. Ward certified a class of children in foster care and those reported to be abused or neglected. The court also denied the defendants' motion to dismiss, interpreting children's constitutional right to protection from harm to include harm that results from unnecessary separation from parents and from extended stays in foster care without a permanent family. Marisol A. v. Giuliani, 929 F. Supp. 662 (1996). Some procedural skirmishes dealing with the defendants' interlocutory appeal followed. On September 26, 1997, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's certification of the plaintiff class and directed that the district judge divide the classes into subclasses for organizational and management purposes. Marisol A. v Giuliani, 126 F.3d 372 (2d Cir. 1997).

In July of 1998, the parties began settlement negotiations. Over the objections of would-be intervenors representing a subclass of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youths in the custody of the city agency, the court approved separate settlement agreements with the city and the state defendants in March 1999. Marisol A. v. Giuliani, 185 F.R.D. 152 (S.D.N.Y. 1999). Objectors appealed, but on July 10, 2000, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's approval of both the city and state settlement agreements. Joel A. v. Giuliani, 218 F.3d 132 (2d Cir. 2000).

The class action settlement required the city to use independent outside child welfare experts to guide and assist it in undertaking systemic reform. The advisory panel had complete access to all aspects of the city's child welfare agency, and was empowered to provide recommendations, issue progress reports on the status of the reform effort, and determine whether the city is acting in good faith in implementing systemic reform. The city settlement was successfully concluded in 2001.

The plaintiffs returned to court in January 2001, seeking an order directing compliance by the state with specific terms of the state settlement agreement. The areas of alleged noncompliance included the failure to implement a statewide child welfare management information system. After an August 2001 evidentiary hearing, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion in part, holding that the state had acted with insufficient diligence in implementing the information management system. Marisol A. ex re. Forbes v. Giuliani, 157 F. Supp. 2d 303 (S.D.N.Y. 2001). Judge Ward extended the term of the agreement in this area, and directed that the state file semi-annual reports with the plaintiffs until the Court determined that the state had fully complied with the relevant portions of the agreement.

Very little activity appears in the docket after that ruling. The state filed a report required by the settlement agreement in July 2008, and then there was nearly a 10-year gap. In 2017, the case was reassigned to Judge George Daniels and then Magistrate Judge Katharine H. Parker. Also, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (“OCFS”) filed one of its required semi-annual reports stating that OCFS was taking reasonable efforts to develop and implement a diligent and sufficient information management system for child welfare needs.

A status conference was held on July 26, 2018. After that conference, the court issued an order relinquishing its jurisdiction over that portion of the settlement agreement on August 6. Since the other parts of the settlement had terminated in 2001, the case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Alice Liu (5/19/2013)

Sean Whetstone (5/17/2018)

Alex Moody (4/12/2020)

Related Cases

Wilder v. Bernstein, Southern District of New York (1973)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/7458316/parties/marisol-a-v-rudolph-giuliani/


Judge(s)

Daniels, George B. (New York)

Duffy, Kevin Thomas (New York)

Eaton, Douglas F. (New York)

Feinberg, Wilfred (New York)

Leval, Pierre Nelson (New York)

Parker, Katherine H. (New York)

Walker, John Mercer Jr. (New York)

Ward, Robert Joseph (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Best, Landis (New York)

Brodsky, David M. (New York)

Judge(s)

Daniels, George B. (New York)

Duffy, Kevin Thomas (New York)

Eaton, Douglas F. (New York)

Feinberg, Wilfred (New York)

Leval, Pierre Nelson (New York)

Parker, Katherine H. (New York)

Walker, John Mercer Jr. (New York)

Ward, Robert Joseph (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Best, Landis (New York)

Brodsky, David M. (New York)

Curnin, Thomas F. (New York)

Dembrow, Ira J. (New York)

Falcone, Marc (New York)

Firestein, Rose E. (New York)

Freedman, Karen J. (New York)

Kimura, Rebecca Kim (New York)

Kirklin, John E. (New York)

Lambiase, Susan (New York)

Leffell, Daniel J. (New York)

Lerner, Gayle (New York)

Levine, Craig (New York)

Lowry, Marcia Robinson (New York)

Marcus, Carol A. (New York)

Murdock, Kim E. (New York)

Nothenberg, Shirim (New York)

Park, Anne Y. (New York)

Peters, Mark G. (New York)

Powell, Jeffrey K. (New York)

Shull, Robert (New York)

Stone, Martha (New York)

Vash, Serina (New York)

Velona, Jess A. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bansal, Preeta D. (New York)

Belohlavek, Michael S. (New York)

Billet, Barbara G. (New York)

Bristow, William (New York)

Caputo, Francis F. (New York)

Connolly, Steven M. (New York)

Crotty, Paul Austin (New York)

Forte, Robert E. (New York)

Goldstein, Stephanie Freeman (New York)

Goodman, Grace (New York)

Hess, Michael D. (New York)

Hughes, Thomas D. (New York)

Kramer, Judith T. (New York)

Popkin, Michael S. (New York)

Rubin, Gail (New York)

Seidman, Phyllis (New York)

Sonnenshein, Larry A. (New York)

Spitzer, Eliot (New York)

Vacco, Dennis C. (New York)

Woods, John (New York)

Younkins, Ronald (New York)

Other Attorney(s)

Abrams, Floyd (New York)

Buchalter, Samantha Leigh (New York)

Cook, Victoria (New York)

Davis, Richard J. (New York)

Goldberg, Janet L. (New York)

Lasdon, Douglas (New York)

Pumo, David (New York)

Sherman, Jonathan (New York)

Wang, Mariann Meier (New York)

Wolff, Tobias B. (New York)

Yale, Harris J. (New York)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Drinane, Monica (New York)

Greenberg, Daniel L. (New York)

McNally, Kay G. (New York)

Rosenbloom, Nancy (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Aug. 6, 2018 Docket
1

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, Class Action

Dec. 13, 1995 Complaint
34

Memorandum and Order

929 F.Supp. 660

March 1, 1996 Order/Opinion
45

Opinion

929 F.Supp. 662

June 18, 1996 Order/Opinion
48

Memorandum and Order

1996 WL 419887

July 26, 1996 Order/Opinion
51

Memorandum and Order

1996 WL 453099

Aug. 12, 1996 Order/Opinion

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

104 F.3d 524

Dec. 10, 1996 Order/Opinion
97

Memorandum Decision

1997 WL 240597, 1997 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 6396

May 8, 1997 Order/Opinion

Ruling on Petition for Writ of Certiorari

Supreme Court of the United States

520 U.S. 1211, 117 S.Ct. 1694, 137 L.Ed.2d 821

May 12, 1997 Order/Opinion
110

Memorandum and Order

1997 WL 349951

June 24, 1997 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Institutional Reform Litigation: Innovative Agreement Ends Marisol Litigation

Ross Sandler and David Schoenbrod

Jan. 1, 1999

The Marisol A. v. Giuliani Settlement: "Innovative Resolution" or "All-Out Disaster"

Sarah Hultman Dunn

July 1, 2002

Rethinking Consent Decrees: How Federal-Court Decrees in Child Welfare Can Harm Those They Are Supposed to Help and Upset the Federal-State Balance

John Bursch & Maura Corrigan

This report examines the efficacy of consent decrees as a tool for reforming government, with a special focus on decrees governing child-welfare agencies, a subset of consent decrees that has been a … June 1, 2016 https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/763b/40be43214fb84f250d61a159fbe7175d55c2.pdf?_ga=2.223220699.1172846216.1581272719-1028919796.1581272719

Out of Harm's Way: Creating an Effective Child Welfare System

Richard Gelles

Despite many well-intentioned efforts to create, revise, reform, and establish an effective child welfare system in the United States, the system continues to fail to ensure the safety and well-being… Jan. 1, 2017

Crafting Complaints and Settlements in Child Welfare Litigation

Zach Strassburger

Despite widespread criticism in legal scholarship bemoaning the inadequacies of institutional reform litigation, class-action lawsuits from public interest legal organizations have been the major dri… Jan. 1, 2018 https://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1223&context=jlasc

Marisol v. Giuliani

National Center for Youth Law

Plaintiffs charged that New York City’s failure to care for and protect children in its custody (or those reported to be in danger of abuse and neglect), jeopardized their health, education, safety, … https://youthlaw.org/case/marisol-v-giuliani/

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/7458316/marisol-a-v-rudolph-giuliani/

Last updated May 19, 2022, 7:06 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Child Welfare

Key Dates

Filing Date: Dec. 13, 1995

Closing Date: Aug. 6, 2018

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All children who are in the custody of the New York City Child Welfare Administration ("CWA"), and those children who, while not in the custody of CWA, are at risk of neglect or abuse and whose status is known or should be known to CWA.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Children's Rights, Inc.

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Mayor of the City of New York, City

Governor of the State of New York, State

New York City Administration of Children’s Services, City

New York State Office of Children and Family Services, 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.

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

Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1998 - 2018

Content of Injunction:

Recordkeeping

Monitoring

Auditing

Issues

General:

Adoption

Classification / placement

Education

Failure to supervise

Failure to train

Family abuse and neglect

Family reunification

Foster care (benefits, training)

Incident/accident reporting & investigations

Individualized planning

Juveniles

Neglect by staff

Pattern or Practice

Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)

Record-keeping

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Timeliness of case assignment

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Discrimination-basis:

Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)

Affected Gender:

Female

Male

Disability:

Least restrictive environment

Medical/Mental Health:

Dental care

HIV/AIDS

Medical care, general

Mental health care, general

Benefit Source:

Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act