The Court of Appeals of Indiana has ruled in favor of case managers with the Department of Child Services in their right to bring a class action lawsuit against the state. The appeals court reversed a trial court’s ruling, which initially dismissed the lawsuit filed in July 2015.
The case, Mary Price et. al. vs. Indiana Department of Child Services, was filed on behalf of DCS case managers who claimed the department failed to follow a state law which dictates how many cases each case manager can manage. The managers stated that they were not allowed to carry caseloads that allowed them to fulfill their job duties and ensure that each child in their cares were effectively protected and served. Lead plaintiff Mary Price provided evidence that her caseload reached as high as 43 children, despite state law mandates of no more than 17 children per case manager at a time.
The ACLU of Indiana is representing the case managers.
"The vital societal importance of the services provided by DCS case managers cannot be overestimated," said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. "I am happy that we will be given the opportunity to demonstrate to the trial court that the caseload standards that are essential for the case managers to perform their jobs are not being met."
The appeals court decision reads, “The statutory caseload maximums included [in the state law] are not an aspirational goal but are a clear and definite number to attain. Accordingly, as [the law] imposes a clear, absolute, and imperative duty on DCS to comply with maximum caseload standards...and no administrative remedy is available to address this systemic violation of Indiana law, we conclude that Price can proceed with mandate action."
The appellate decision remands the case back to the trial court.