National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

A.S.W. v. Oregon
Also known as A.S.W. v. Mink

This class action challenges the Oregon Department of Human Services’ 7.5% across-the-board unilateral reduction of Adoption Assistance Program (AAP) payments and denial of an administrative fair hearing to contest Defendants’ actions. Defendants implemented the 7.5% AAP payment reduction in conjunction with a 7.5% reduction in foster care rates in response to state budgetary pressures. Plaintiffs challenge the AAP reductions on grounds that the defendants’ actions violated federal and state law requiring a binding AAP agreement and the concurrence of the adoptive parent for any changes in the AAP payment amount, and deny recipients due process of law under the federal Constitution.

Overview

FILE NO., COURT, AND DATE FILED

6-03-06038-AA (Dist. Or., Mar. 14, 2003)

CITATION

424 F. 3d 970 (9th Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 549 U.S. 812 (2006).

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFFS

Arthur C. Johnson
Derek C. Johnson
Johnson, Clifton, Larson & Corson
975 Oak Street, Suite 1050
Eugene, OR 97401-3176
(541) 484-2434
Fax : (541) 484-2434
ajohnson@jclc.com

Maria F. Ramiu
Alice Bussiere
Youth Law Center
417 Montgomery Street, Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 543-337
Fax: (415) 956-9022
mramiu@ylc.org

HISTORY AND STATUS

On May 12, 2003, defendants filed a motion to dismiss on grounds that there is no private right of action under the federal AAP statute. The court granted this motion. One month later, on November 17, 2003, the court also dismissed plaintiffs’ class certification motion as moot. Plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

On September 13, 2005, the Ninth Circuit held that the federal AAP statute created a private right to individualized adoption assistance payment determinations that is enforceable under § 1983. Subsequently, the Ninth Circuit denied defendants’ petition for an en banc rehearing.

On October 7, 2008, the district court approved the parties’ settlement agreement. The agreement required defendants to send reimbursement payments to all class members.