Major Developments in NCLEJ Litigation Since 2002
NCLEJ and Colleagues Win Settlement Requiring Accessible Trailers for Katrina Evacuees with Disabilities
Senator Edward M. Kennedy praises settlement (October 2006)
Press Release (September 26, 2006)
Brou Settlement (September 26, 2006)
Description of Case (February 17, 2006)
NCLEJ and Colleagues File Lawsuit Against FEMA to Keep 50,000 Hurricane Evacuees From Becoming Homeless
Center and Colleagues Win Initial Victory in Challenge to Erie County, New York's Failure to Process Food Stamp and Other Benefits
In February 2006 we filed a federal class action in Buffalo against the county services commissioner challenging the county's policies and practices of failing to process applications and provide food stamps, Medicaid, and cash assistance in a timely manner and of failing to provide food stamps on an expedited basis, all in violation of federal and state law. We also sued the state social services commissioner for failure to properly oversee and supervise the county. The Court has awarded relief to the named plaintiffs, and the case is proceeding. We are co-counsel with the Western New York Law Center. (Martin v. Weiner)
NCLEJ Wins Restoration of Benefits to Thousands of New York Families of Children with Disabilities
Under New York law, needy families that include children receiving federal SSI benefits because of the child's disabilities may be eligible for public assistance benefits for the family. Thousands of these families suffered a dramatic loss of income which they had been using to meet the higher costs of caring for a child with profound disabilities after the state agency changed its formula for calculating benefits B even though there had been no change in the law. Working with a broad team of advocates and the firm of Dewey Ballantine, we won a resounding victory in the trial court and, in 2006, on appeal. The State now has to provide retroactive assistance to thousands of families harmed by the State's illegal action. (Doe v. Doar)
NCLEJ Achieves Settlement Requiring Translation of California Food Stamp Forms
NCLEJ and its colleagues have achieved a settlement in a California state court case challenging the state Food Stamp agency's failure to comply with Food Stamp provisions requiring translation of Food Stamp forms and an estimate of the low-income single language minority population. Under the terms of the settlement in Vu v. Mitchell, approved by the court in December 2006, the state will translate Food Stamp forms and materials (and new or revised forms) into 8 languages (Arabic, Armenian, Cambodian, Farsi, Hmong, Korean. Lao, and Tagalog). The state currently translates forms into Spanish, Chinese, Russian, and Vietnamese, and will complete translation of any forms not yet translated into these languages. It will do the translations on a specific timetable according to whether the form is designated high priority, moderate, or low priority. Currently 69 forms have been identified for translation. The state will report monthly to petitioners on the translation progress and will notify counties monthly about new translations and instruct them to use the forms. The state will monitor counties' use of translated forms through its civil rights review process, annual food stamp program survey, and state fair hearing process.
Each year for the term of the agreement, the state will estimate the language needs of the low income population both participating and non-participating in the Food Stamp program, as required by federal Food Stamp law. If the estimate requires translation of materials into other languages, the state will do so.
The case was brought as a petition for a writ of mandamus under a state law provision authorizing an action to compel agency performance of an act specifically required by law. For further information contact Gina Mannix, National Center for Law and Economic Justice, mannix (at) nclej.org. Co-counsel are Jodie Berger, Bay Area Legal Aid (email@example.com); Grace Galligher, Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations (firstname.lastname@example.org); and Amy Lee, Bay Area Legal Aid (ALee@baylegal.org).