Briggs v. Bremby
Preliminary Injunction Order. See attached Order Signed by Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on 5/13/2013.(Fernandez, Melissa)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
Individually and on behalf of all
other persons similarly situated
: CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:12cv324(VLB)
: MAY 13, 2013
RODERICK BREMBY, in his official capacity :
as Commissioner of the State of
Connecticut Department of Social Services, :
Preliminary Injunction Order
WHEREAS, this action was commenced pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 to
enforce rights conferred by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the “Food Stamp
Act” or “FSA”) and regulations promulgated thereunder on behalf of persons
alleging that Defendant fails to process applications and provide food stamps1 in
a timely manner in violation of the FSA;
WHEREAS, Plaintiffs seek a permanent injunction enjoining Defendant to
process applications for, and provide, food stamps in a timely manner, as
required by the FSA;
WHEREAS, the Defendant admits that there are systemic deficiencies in the
manner in which it processes food stamps, including without limitation routine
Effective October 1, 2009, the federal Food Stamp Program was renamed the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the federal Food Stamp
Act was renamed the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. Pub. L. No. 110-246, §§4001,
loss of applications, loss of verification documentation, and the failure to timely
schedule interviews as required by the FSA;
WHEREAS, on December 4, 2012, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ Motion for a
Preliminary Injunction in this action;
WHEREAS, the Court has broad discretion in fashioning equitable relief;
NOW, GOOD CAUSE APPEARING, IT IS HEREBY Ordered, Adjudged and
1. “Applicant” means any person or household that applies, by any
approved means, on a State-prescribed form, for food stamps.
2. “Expedited” service of a food stamp application” refers to the
processing of a food stamp application on an expedited basis for
households that meet the criteria for expedited processing set
forth in 7 U.S.C. §2020(e)(9), 7 C.F.R. §273.2(i).
3. “Food stamps” means assistance provided pursuant to the Food
and Nutrition Act of 1977, as amended, 7 U.S.C. §2011 et seq., and
any and all successor programs, including but not limited to the
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Pub. L. No. 110-246,
4. “Order” means this order prescribing the Preliminary Injunction.
5. “Term” means the date this Order was entered until the date of
final adjudication of the matter.
6. The Plaintiff class shall consist of:
All persons in Connecticut who have applied, who are currently
applying, or who will apply in the future and whose application
was not timely processed for food stamps as required by 7 U.S.C.
§2020(e)(3) and (e)(9); 7 C.F.R. §273.2 and 273.17.
7. Defendant shall process all applications for food stamps and
provide food stamp benefits retroactive to the month of
application to those households that have completed the
application process and been determined eligible as required by 7
U.S.C. §§2020(e)(3) and (e)(9); 7 C.F.R §273.2.
8. Defendant shall determine whether the state or the household is
at fault and the reason for any failure to make a timely eligibility
determination as prescribed by 7 C.F.R §273.2(h).
9. On the last day of each month beginning August 31, 2013,
Defendant shall report to the Plaintiff the reason for the failure to
timely determine eligibility of each applicant as prescribed by 7
C.F.R §273.2(h) specifying whether the applicant or the Defendant
was at fault.
10. In each case in which Defendant is at fault for failing to make a
timely eligibility determination, Defendant shall restore the
household benefits retroactive as prescribed by 7 C.F.R §273.17.
11. Defendant shall provide eligible households that complete the
initial application process (including combined applications for
food stamps, cash assistance, or other federal benefits) an
opportunity to participate in the food stamp program as soon as
possible, but no later than thirty calendar days following the date
the application was filed as required by 7 U.S.C. §2020(e)(3); 7
C.F.R. §273.2 (g).
12. Defendant shall provide expedited service of food stamp
application(s) (including combined applications for food stamps,
cash assistance, or other federal benefits) to households eligible
for such expedited service no later than the seventh (7th)
calendar day following the date the application is filed as set forth
in 7 U.S.C. §2020 (e)(9) and 7 C.F.R. §273.2(i).
13. Defendant shall promptly enact any changes to policy statements,
procedures, manuals, and internal directives necessary to ensure
that his staff, employees, consultants, contractors, agents and
assigns comply with the terms and conditions of this Order.
Defendant will provide copies of any such changes to Plaintiffs’
counsel for comment before publication and afford Plaintiffs a
meaningful opportunity for timely comment. In addition,
Defendant shall conduct such training as is necessary to ensure
that his staff, employees, consultants, contractors, agents, and
assigns comply with the terms and conditions of this Order.
14. Within twelve (12) months of this Order, Defendant shall be in full
compliance with all federal requirements to promptly determine
the eligibility for food stamps of each applicant household so as
to complete certification and provide assistance to all eligible
households. For purposes of this Order, full compliance shall
mean compliance in all cases except those individual and isolated
instances of delay that occur inevitably in an agency such as
Defendant’s. To account for these instances of individual and
isolated error, Defendant shall be considered in full compliance
with the terms of sub-paragraphs 14(d) and 14(h) of this Order if
his agency’s timely processing of food stamp applications meets
the requirements of those paragraphs within a 3 percent margin
of error – i.e. Defendant achieves 97% compliance.
a. 70 percent of all food stamps applicant households subject
to 30-day processing by August 31, 2013;
b. 80 percent of all food stamps applicant households subject
to 30-day processing by October 31, 2013;
c. 90 percent of all food stamps applicant households subject
to 30-day processing by December 31, 2013;
d. Full compliance for all food stamps applicant households
subject to 30-day processing by the last day of the 12th
month following the date of this Order and shall be
sustained for six consecutive months;
e. 70 percent of all expedited food stamps applicant
households by August 31, 2013;
f. 80 percent of all expedited food stamps applicant
households by October 31, 2013;
g. 90 percent of all expedited food stamps applicant
households by December 31, 2013;
h. Full compliance or all expedited food stamps applicant
households by the last day of the 12th month following the
date of this Order and shall be sustained for six
i. By July 31, 2014, the percentage of applications pending
more than 30 days shall not exceed 10% of all applications
and shall be sustained for six consecutive months.
j. By September 30, 2014, the percentage of applications
pending more than 30 days shall not exceed 5% of all
applications and shall be sustained for six consecutive
Each month during the Term, Defendant shall provide Plaintiffs’ counsel or their
designated representatives, with the following reports:
15. Within fifteen (15) days of the end of the preceding month:
k. A report noting the number of initial applications filed in the
month, sorted by local office and aggregate statewide;
l. A report noting the number of application determinations
made in the month, statewide and subdivided by office
where filed and the statewide aggregate.
m. A report as described in Section III Paragraph 9 of this
16. Plaintiffs shall be entitled to a single statistically significant,
randomly selected, sample of applications processed to
determination in a month to be determined by Plaintiffs’ counsel.
The parties shall meet to determine the sampling protocol and
methodology. The sample drawn shall be large enough to provide
a 3% confidence interval at the 95% confidence level. Within 90
days of the end of the month sampled, Defendant shall submit a
report to Plaintiffs’ counsel that indicates the following:
a. for those applications determined eligible for expedited
Food Stamp application processing, whether or not Food
Stamp benefits were issued within 7 days following the
date the application was filed; and
b. for those applications not determined eligible for expedited
processing, whether the applications were processed and
benefits issued to those found eligible within 30 days
following the filing of the application.
17. With regard to cases in the sample specified in Paragraph 16 that
have been reported as not being timely processed, Defendant will
conduct a review of those applications and provide corrective
action on those applications remaining. Defendant will provide a
report of its findings and corrective action taken on these cases
to Plaintiffs’ counsel within 90 days from the end of the sampling
period. Defendant shall also consolidate and propose to
Plaintiffs’ counsel changes in policies, procedures and protocols
to avoid such delays.
18. In the event that Plaintiffs reasonably believe, based on the
results of the sample described in Paragraph 16 above, that the
monitoring reports identified in paragraph 15 above are not
reliable with regard to the timely processing of Food Stamp
applications subject to 30-day processing and/or the timely
expedited processing of applications for Food Stamp benefits,
they will give notice to Defendant and counsel for Plaintiffs and
Defendant will meet and confer regarding the results of the
sample. If the Defendant agrees with the Plaintiffs, Plaintiffs and
Defendant will attempt to arrive at a resolution, which may
include, inter alia, if necessary, the conducting of an additional
sample. In the event the Plaintiffs and Defendant are unable to
agree that a resolution is necessary and/or to the scope of a
resolution, the disputed issues will be referred to the Court for
INFORMAL REVIEW PROCESS
19. Defendant shall provide a mechanism by which Plaintiffs’ counsel
may bring to the attention of Defendant no more than ten
instances in a month in which an application which its
investigation reveals may not have been processed in accordance
with the FSA. Plaintiffs’ counsel shall inform Defendant of the
specific processing deficiency alleged. Defendant agrees to
investigate each specific alleged processing deficiency and to
advise Plaintiffs’ counsel of the result of said investigation within
five (5) business days. Defendant shall designate and provide
Plaintiffs’ counsel with the identity of the contact information for
the person(s) responsible for resolving requests for assistance
referred under this paragraph and any successors to the
person(s) responsible for resolving the issues.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Hon. Vanessa L. Bryant
United States District Judge
Dated at Hartford, Connecticut: May 13, 2013
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