Federal Court Approves Class Action Settlement Regarding Suffolk County (New York) Constitutionally Inadequate Notice of Child Care Termination

On March 18, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York approved the class action settlement entered into between low-income working parents, represented by the of National Center for Law and Economic Justice and Empire Justice Center, and the Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Social Services. The settlement followed the Court’s July 26, 2012 decision holding that the County’s June 2012 child care termination notices, stating only that that the county had insufficient funds and that the parent’s income exceeded the new eligibility standard, violated the recipients’ due process right to
adequate notice. The inadequate notices failed to include information that recipients needed to understand whether the proposed action was correct and whether to appeal. Per plaintiffs’ request, the Court also ordered defendant to restore child care assistance to those affected and provide constitutionally adequate notice before termination.

The Court-approved settlement incorporates the notice requirements previously ordered by the Court regarding the June 2012 notices. Moreover, the settlement requires defendant to provide comparable and adequate notice in the event that the County undertakes additional terminations in the future based on a reduction in eligibility.

The case is Torres v. Blass. Plaintiffs are represented by Laura Redman, Tedde Tasheff, Marc Cohan, and Gina Mannix at the National Center for Law and Economic Justice and Linda Hassberg, Susan Antos and Bryan Hetherington at Empire Justice Center.

Press Release July 27, 2012

Newsday July 20, 2012