National Center for Youth Law


K.L. v. State of New Mexico
also known as J.B. v. Valdez

This is a class action lawsuit on behalf of all children in New Mexico with mental and/or developmental disabilities who are in state custody as a result of abuse or neglect, are known to the state due to an abuse/neglect report, have been alleged to be delinquent, or have otherwise been determined by the state to be in need of services. The case challenged the state’s failure to provide plaintiffs with appropriate services, care, treatment, education, and access to the judicial system.

Plaintiffs resided in a variety of placements, including: psychiatric hospitals, detention facilities, other highly restrictive settings, relative homes, foster homes, and at home. Many of these children had experienced multiple changes in placement, as well as crises in their families, schools, and communities, due to lack of appropriate care and treatment.

The case included claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Medicaid/EPSDT statutes, 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the National Mental Health Planning Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The case also raised constitutional claims, including substantive due process claims regarding adequate treatment and family integrity, and First and Sixth Amendment claims regarding access to the judicial system.



CIV-93 1350 (D.N.M., Nov. 17, 1993)


167 F.R.D. 688 (D.N.M. 1996); 186 F.3d 1280 (10th Cir. 1999), reh’g and reh’g en banc denied, (Nov. 3, 1999)




Joseph Goldberg
Freedman, Boyd, Daniels,
Hollander, Goldberg & Cline, P.A.
20 First Plaza, Suite 700
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 842-9960

Peter Cubra
122 Tulane SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
(505) 256-7690

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
1101 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 467-5730
Fax: (202) 223-0409
Nancy Koenigsberg
Protection & Advocacy System
1720 Louisiana, NE, Suite 204
Albuquerque, NM 87110
(505) 256-3100
Fax: (505) 256-3184

Charles Peifer
Peifer, Hanson & Mullins
20 First Plaza, Suite 725
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 247-4800

William Walker
Walker & Van Heijenoort
4623 Montgomery Blvd NE #230
Albuquerque, NM 87109
(505) 242-2800



In March 1994, plaintiffs moved for class certification, which the court denied on June 26, 1996. In the meantime, the state filed a total of six motions to dismiss, raising numerous issues including failure to state a claim, res judicata, collateral estoppel, and abstention.

On April 11, 1997, the court granted the state’s motion to abstain, and dismissed the claims of all children who had experienced state abuse/neglect, holding that pursuant to the doctrine of Younger v. Harris, the court could not hear these claims. The court also dismissed the claims of children in the delinquency system after the named plaintiffs turned eighteen.

Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal and denial of class certification. On August 12, 1999, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the lower court in a split decision upholding the denial of class certification, and holding that Younger abstention was warranted.

On November 3, 1999, plaintiffs’ petition for rehearing en banc was denied. Plaintiffs decided not to seek certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.