A judge has dismissed the lawsuit a foster parents’ organization brought against New York state, concluding that federal law provisions did not offer a private right of action.
The New York State Citizens’ Coalition for Children sued in an attempt to alter New York’s payments to caretakers that are meant to cover a foster child’s daily costs. Through the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, the federal government helps states pay individuals and entities in their foster care and adoption-assistance programs as long as the states meet certain standards. The coalition asserted New York was paying caretakers a fraction of what was required.
In what he called a matter of first impression in the Second Circuit, Eastern District Judge William Kuntz II, in New York State Citizens’ Coalition for Children v. Carrion, 10-cv-3485, rejected the claim. Kuntz noted that the law’s text and structure “lack[ed] any indicia” of “rights-creating language,” suggesting that Congress did not intend a private cause of action to arise from the statute.
A plaintiff’s benefit from a law was not enough to successfully assert Congress conferred the right to privately enforce a statute, the judge said. States, not foster care providers, were the law’s “textual focus,” he said, adding, “This is a strong indication that Congress did not intend for foster care providers to have a private right of action.”
The coalition was represented by Grant Joseph Esposito and Joel C. Haims, partners at Morrison & Foerster, as well as associates Adam James Hunt and Leah Andrea Ramos. Paul Galante, previously at Morrison & Foerster and now at Pierce & O’Neill in Houston, also appeared for the organization.
Assistant Attorneys General John P. Gasior, Robert L. Kraft, and Elizabeth Cohen represented the state.