Danny B. v. Raimondo, No. 14-1585 (1st Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
This putative class action was brought on behalf of ten foster children in the custody of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). The complaint alleged that DCYF’s failings exposed foster children in its custody to an unreasonable risk of harm and that the State had failed to comply in various respects with the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act. After much skirmishing between the parties and delay during discovery, trial commenced. At that point, the claims of all but two of the named plaintiffs had been rendered moot through aging or adoption. The district court concluded (1) Plaintiffs had presented insufficient evidence to establish that DCYF’s policies and customs had either harmed them or exposed them to an unreasonable risk of harm, and (2) Plaintiffs failed to carry their burden of proof with respect to their statutory causes of action. Plaintiffs appealed, claiming myriad errors relating to pretrial proceedings. The First Circuit vacated the judgment, holding that the district court abused its discretion when it, in two case management orders, denied Plaintiffs’ counsel access to their own clients and prevented Plaintiffs from seeking plainly relevant discovery.