Braam ex rel. Braam v. State
Washington Supreme Court
81 P.3d 851 (2003)
Foster children in Washington (plaintiffs) were frequently moved to new homes and sometimes placed with known or suspected child abusers. A class action was filed on behalf of the foster children against the state’s Department of Social and Health Services (department) (defendant). The requested relief included an injunction forcing the department to reduce how frequently the foster children were moved to new homes. A jury returned a verdict that the department had violated the foster children’s constitutional rights and that this violation had harmed the foster children. The trial court also specifically found that (1) the foster children were being harmed by unnecessary moves, (2) the foster parents were not being sufficiently trained or supported to provide proper care for the foster children, (3) foster children were being denied necessary mental-health care, (4) the DSHS was housing children in unsafe conditions, and (5) foster children were being separated from their siblings. The trial court then issued a broad injunction requiring the department to make significant reforms aimed at fixing these problems. The department appealed the injunction order on several grounds, including a claim that it could not afford to comply with the injunction, which it estimated would cost approximately $60 million. The appellate court stayed most of the injunction pending appeal but required the department to comply with parts of the injunction requiring safe homes. The Washington Supreme Court then accepted review of the matter.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Chambers, J.)
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