Civil Rights

Lansner & Kubitschek has an extensive practice representing clients seeking damages in actions under 42 U.S.C. subsection 1983 for violations of their civil rights. We concentrate on cases arising out of the child welfare system. We represent families that have been separated as a result of unconstitutional actions by the New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS) and its foster care agencies, seeking both damages and systematic changes. We also represent children who have been injured in foster care as a result of the failures of ACS and foster care agencies to provide a safe environment to the children.

Lansner & Kubitschek Publications
Nicholson v. Williams: The Case, 82 Denv. U.L. Rev. 655
Jill M. Zuccardy
Related Cases
Camreta v. Greene
131 S.Ct. 2020 (Supreme Court of the United States, 2011)

Carolyn Kubitschek's argument in the United States Supreme Court on March 1, 2011, has resulted in a strictly procedural decision that the case was moot, directing the Ninth Circuit to vacate part of its ruling.  It does not overturn the decision or the reasoning.  On remand, the Ninth Circuit vacated part of its ruling, but left intact the remainder.

Nicholson v. Scoppetta
344 F.3d 154 (2d Cir., 2003)

In a class-action lawsuit, credited with affecting policy nationwide, the federal court declared the City of New York's policy of removing children from battered mothers to be unconstitutional, and enjoined its illegal practices.

Miller v. Gammie
335 F.3d 889 (9th Cir., 2003)

The Ninth Circuit en banc ruled that foster children who are placed in dangerous foster care placements can sue the agencies and staff who failed to protect them from harm. The Court overruled its 14-year-old precedent that had given absolute immunity from liability to foster care organizations and staff.

Willis v. Croft
(E.D.N.Y., 2000)

The settlement for $2.75 million for abuse in foster care was approved by Judge John Gleeson on April 25, 2000.

Tenenbaum v. Williams
193 F.3d 581 (2d Cir., 1999)

The court expanded the Fourth Amendment rights of children, holding that social workers could not have doctors conduct medical examinations on children without the consent of the parents or a court order, In addition, the court held that, if there is enough time for a caseworker to obtain a court order, the caseworker could not remove the children from their parents without one. Children and parents may recover damages for violations.

Valmonte v. Bane
18 F.3d 992 (2d Cir., 1994)

In a major expansion of the right to reputation, the court held that the operation of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services' State Central Register was unconstitutional. The Register is a list of all parents suspected of abusing or neglecting their children, and any person whose name is on the list is effectively banned from working with children. The court found the system to be unacceptable due to the low level of evidence required to place a name on the register and the lack of a hearing. The decision has been followed in other states.

Thomas v. City of New York
814 F.Supp. 1139 (S.D.N.Y., 1992)

A mother and her children sued the City of New York, and Foster care agencies for children who were physically and emotionally harmed while in foster care. This court determined that the domestic relations exception in federal court did not apply in cases where children were abused while in the custody of the City of New York.

Doe v. DSS
649 F.2d 134 (2d Cir., 1981)

In a landmark decision, the court established the Constitutional right of children in foster care to be free from harm and for children abused in foster case to sue both the City of New York and the foster care agency under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. A great expansion for children's rights, this decision has served as a precedent for all other circuits that have had similar cases.