ALBANY — In a groundbreakingdecision on substantive due process rights in child welfare cases, theState Court of Appeals yesterday gave four families a narrow opportunityto revive suits against New York City on behalf of children who allegedlysuffered physical or emotional abuse while in foster care.

In an opinion by Judge AlbertM. Rosenblatt, the Court held for the first time that government may beheld liable for monetary damages for failure to ensure that reasonablesafety and basic necessities are provided for children it has placed infoster care.

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