RI Andrew C. v. Raimondo

Rhode Island

Children’s Rights, Rhode Island attorney John Dineen, and international law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP filed this case against the governor of the state of Rhode Island, the secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the director of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (“DCYF”). The case was filed on behalf of all children who are or will be in the legal custody of DCYF due to a report or suspicion of abuse or neglect, alleging violations of their constitutional rights to substantive due process and familial association, and their statutory rights to adequate case plans and foster care maintenance payments. Among the issues described in the latest Fourth Amended Complaint:

The district court declined to address , and instead ordered a trial be held on the claims of the individual named plaintiffs. This trial began November 2013 and the plaintiffs rested their case-in-chief in early January 2014. At that time, the defendants asked the judge to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiffs had not met their burden of proof. The plaintiffs responded, with powerful evidence that Rhode Island children in foster care are exposed to numerous harms as a result of the defendants’ systemic deficiencies. Nevertheless, the judge ordered that the case be dismissed, denying relief to this vulnerable class of the plaintiff children. Plaintiffs appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals and argued their case on March 4, 2015. On April 21, 2015, the First Circuit threw out the decision dismissing the case, finding that the trial court had “impermissibly tilted the playing field” against the Plaintiff Children and sending the case back down to the district court for further proceedings. Accordingly, Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Class Certification on October 15, 2015 and their Fourth Amended Complaint with a total of five Named Plaintiffs on October 22, 2015.

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