University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
view search results
page permalink
Case Name G.F. v. Contra Costa County JI-CA-0024
Docket / Court 3:13-cv-03667-MEJ ( N.D. Cal. )
Additional Docket(s) 3:14-cv-00268-MEJ  [ 14-268 ]
3:14-cv-00270-MEJ  [ 14-270 ]  Northern District of CA (U.S.)
3:14-cv-00269-MEJ  [ 14-269 ]  Northern District of CA (U.S.)
3:14-cv-00268-MEJ  [ 14-268 ]  Northern District of CA (U.S.)
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Juvenile Institution
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Public Counsel
Case Summary
On August 8, 2013, detainees of the Costa County Juvenile Hall filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Contra Costa County, California. The plaintiffs, represented by counsel from the Disability Rights Advocates, alleged that defendants ... read more >
On August 8, 2013, detainees of the Costa County Juvenile Hall filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Contra Costa County, California. The plaintiffs, represented by counsel from the Disability Rights Advocates, alleged that defendants discriminated against disabled youth in the Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall.

Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that because Contra Costa County denied the plaintiffs special education and related services, the plaintiffs misbehaved and were punished; during punishment, the plaintiffs were placed in solitary confinement for at least 22 hours per day, which made their disabilities worse and made the plaintiffs more likely to misbehave again. The plaintiffs alleged that the solitary confinement, denial of rehabilitative services while in solitary confinement, and denial of special education and other services even while out of solitary confinement violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), the American Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and three state anti-discrimination laws. Plaintiffs sought class certification, declaratory judgment, injunctive relief with monitoring by a special master, and attorney fees.

The case was assigned to Judge Saundra B. Armstrong. Over the next year, the defendants moved to dismiss the case, and the plaintiffs moved for class certification. The plaintiffs amended their complaint to drop all defendants except Contra Costa County and Contra Costa County Office of Education. As a result, Judge Armstrong denied as moot the motions for dismissal and class certification, and both parties refiled their motions to include the updated parties and proceedings.

On January 16, 2014, the County filed three separate suits in this same Court, one against each plaintiff, arguing that the underlying Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) for California improperly found that the County's Probation Department could be sued under the IDEA. The County requested attorney fees for the appeal and that the Court set aside the OAH findings. The plaintiffs moved to consolidate their action with the County's three suits, but the Court deferred litigation on the County's claims until a decision was made on its motion to dismiss plaintiffs' claims.

On February 13, 2014, the United States filed a Statement of Interest concerning protection of detained youth, especially when solitary confinement was involved. The U.S. explained that it had an interest in the case because of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, which allows the U.S. to investigate juvenile detention facilities for unlawful detention practices. The U.S. argued that the County had a duty to provide services, activities and programs to qualified youth, and that the law does not allow discrimination based on disabilities. For that reason, the U.S. requested that the Court consider the Statement of Interest and deny defendants' motion to dismiss.

Following extensive negotiations, the plaintiffs reached settlement agreements with both Contra Costa County and the Contra Costa County Office of Education. On November 25, 2015, the court (Judge Maria-Elena James) approved the settlement agreements. 2015 WL 7571789.

Under the settlement agreement with Contra Costa County, the County would no longer use solitary confinement for discipline, punishment, administrative convenience, retaliation, staffing shortages, or reasons other than a temporary response to behavior that threatens immediate harm to the youth or others. In line with national standards, the County could segregate a youth in his or her room for no more than four hours but only if the youth’s behavior risked immediate harm to themselves or others. After four hours, the Probation Department had to remove the youth from confinement, develop specialized individualized programming for the youth, or assess whether the youth should be transported to a mental health facility.

Under the settlement agreement with the Contra Costa County Office of Education, the County Office of Education would retain an outside expert to evaluate its compliance with federal and state special education laws and to ensure that the students with disabilities in Juvenile Hall would receive the special education that they need. The expert would make recommended revisions to policies, procedures and practices as they relate to Child Find, development and implementation of individualized education plans, and discipline, which the County’s Board of Education will adopt.

The defendants also agreed to pay $1,340,000 in attorneys' fees. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreements, which were scheduled to last for four years. On December 18, 2015, the court approved the parties' motion to modify the settlement agreements' procedures for choosing experts to monitor implementation. On July 13, 2016, the court approved the parties' second request for modification of the settlement agreement, which increased the time period during which the parties could raise challenges to the export report required by the settlement agreement.

On September 28, 2016, the plaintiffs moved for administrative relief, seeking referral to Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero for a status conference to discuss disputes between the parties regarding implementation of the settlement agreement. The motion for administrative relief was granted the next day, and the parties held status conferences before Magistrate Judge Spero on October 17 and November 10, 2016.

As of April 18, 2020, the court retains jurisdiction over the settlement agreements.

Maurice Youkanna - 06/24/2014
Richard Jolly - 11/05/2014
Jessica Kincaid - 02/05/2016
Sarah McDonald - 08/05/2018

compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Content of Injunction
Mental impairment
Accommodation / Leave
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary segregation
Disparate Impact
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
State law
Defendant(s) Contra Costa County
Plaintiff Description Jvenile detainees who suffer from mental disabilities and face discrimination in a county juvenile hall.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Public Counsel
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2015 - n/a
Filed 08/08/2013
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  G.F. et al. v. Contra Costa County et al.
Date: May 19, 2015
By: Disability Rights Advocates
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Cal.
JI-CA-0024-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
not recorded
Lawsuit Details Solitary Confinement and Failure to Educate Young People with Disabilities in Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall
JI-CA-0024-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
N.D. Cal.
Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
JI-CA-0024-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
N.D. Cal.
First Amended Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 87]
JI-CA-0024-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
Order [ Denying motions to dismiss as moot] [ECF# 90]
JI-CA-0024-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
Statement of Interest of the United States of America [ECF# 159]
JI-CA-0024-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
Class Action Settlement Agreement
JI-CA-0024-0007.pdf | External Link | Detail
N.D. Cal.
Settlement Agreement with Contra Costa County
JI-CA-0024-0008.pdf | External Link | Detail
N.D. Cal.
Order Granting Final Approval of Settlement Agreements and Granting Motion for Reasonable Attorneys' Fees and Costs [ECF# 307] (2015 WL 7571789)
JI-CA-0024-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Bloomberg Law
show all people docs
Judges Armstrong, Saundra Brown (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0004 | JI-CA-0024-9000
James, Maria-Elena (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0009 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Spero, Joseph C. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Carter, Grace A (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Chen, Lillian (California) show/hide docs
Chernicoff, Zoe P (California) show/hide docs
Clayton, Patrick Bradford (California) show/hide docs
Cook, Gina (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Faer, Laura Lynne (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-0007 | JI-CA-0024-0008 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Janssen, Kara J. (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Juneja, Poonam (California) show/hide docs
Marks, Julia Zoog (California) show/hide docs
Mason, Daniel Simon (California) show/hide docs
Parks, Shawna L (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Pitts, Freya E. K. (California) show/hide docs
Rankie, Heather T. (California) show/hide docs
Smith, Mary-Lee Kimber (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-0003 | JI-CA-0024-0007 | JI-CA-0024-0008 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Vera, Hernan D. (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Williford, Rebecca S. (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0001 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Wolinsky, Sidney M. (California) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Baker, D. Cameron (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0008 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Mishook, David R (California) show/hide docs
Smith, Kimberly A (California) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0007 | JI-CA-0024-9000
Other Lawyers Wilson, Ryan C (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JI-CA-0024-0006 | JI-CA-0024-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
view search results
page permalink

- top of page -