Legal Aid Conditions of Confinement Class Action Results in Significant Federal Court Settlement Agreement To Protect Children in State Custody

The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice and pro bono counsel Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP have settled G.B. et al., v. Carrión, et al., a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of 14 named plaintiffs and the class of all present and future residents in certain juvenile placement facilities run by the State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). The settlement provides for injunctive relief to reform OCFS’ policies and practices.

As a result of the settlement, OCFS is implementing new policies to reduce the use of force and physical restraints against facility residents, including an end to the use of prone (face down on the floor restraints) and a requirement that restraints be used only as a last resort after de-escalation techniques have been tried. The settlement also provides for comprehensive mental health services and the establishment of a quality assurance system to ensure that OCFS’ policies and procedures are being followed. As part of the settlement, the named plaintiffs will receive a total of $500,000 for the injuries they suffered from use of force and restraint incidents.

The Juvenile Rights Practice’s Special Litigation and Law Reform Unit will monitor the implementation of the injunctive relief required in the settlement. In this landmark law reform litigation, The Legal Aid Society’s lawyers have included Tamara Steckler, Christine Bella, Lisa Freeman, Theresa Moser, and Beth Hofmeister.