National Center for Youth Law


Laurie Q. v. Contra Costa County

A class of special-needs foster children, committed to the care and custody of Contra Costa County, alleged that the county failed to comply with provisions of the Social Security Act and misapplied state-set formulae for making foster care maintenance payments required under Title IV-E.



96-3483 (N.D. Cal., Sept. 25, 1996)


973 F. Supp. 925 (N.D. Cal. 1997); 304 F. Supp. 2d 1185 (N.D. Cal. 2004)


Law Offices of Darren J. Kessler
6306 Eureka Avenue, Suite #2
El Cerrito, CA 94530
(510) 524-7750

Michael S. Sorgen
Andrea Brott
Law Offices of Michael S. Sorgen
240 Stockton Street, 9th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 956-1360
Fax: (415) 956-6342

John Houston Scott
The Scott Law Firm
1375 Sutter Street, Suite 222
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 561-9600
Fax: (415) 561-9609


Plaintiffs filed suit on September 25, 1996. On May 22, 1997, the district court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims against the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, leaving only the claims against the County. Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on December 19, 1997. The district court dismissed plaintiffs’ second, fourth, and fifth causes of action on August 17, 1998.

On February 17, 2004, the district court ruled on the county’s motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ remaining claims. The court granted in part and denied in part. The court concluded that the county was not entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. However, the judge ruled that Younger abstention was warranted on the claim seeking injunctive relief requiring compliance with the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act and that named plaintiffs’ claims for prospective injunctive relief were moot because they had been adopted.

In 2005, the individual plaintiffs’ claims were resolved for substantial damages, attorneys’ fees, and prospective relief.