Firm Secures Major Pro Bono Decision in New York Court of Appeals

May 6, 2010

The New York Court of Appeals has affirmed that children in foster care with developmental disabilities may proceed as a class in their suit against the NYC Administration for Children's Services ("ACS") and NY State's Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities ("OMRDD"). The firm has represented the plaintiff class since 2005, when we first obtained permission to intervene in a suit between ACS and OMRDD over who has responsibility for providing services and housing to class members. ACS and OMRDD’s failure to work together to identify and serve children with developmental disabilities has resulted in the denial of necessary services to many children languishing in highly restrictive settings such as adult nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals as they await placement. ACS has argued at each stage of the litigation that its violation of state and federal laws protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities can never be litigated on a class-wide basis and can only be raised in individual Family Court proceedings -- an argument that has finally been put to rest by the Court of Appeals' decision.

Along with our co-counsel at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and Lawyers for Children, the appeal team included Catherine Williams, Alicia Tallbe, Yasmin Zainulbhai, Stephanie Coggins and Lisa Cleary. Seventeen public interest organizations joined amicus briefs in support of our clients. Many others have contributed to the class certification and litigation effort, including John Knapp, Niraj Parekh, Lynde Lintemuth, Ryan Sirianni, Nico Commandeur and Tim Waters.