Rodriguez v. Swank (1970)

AFDC payments must be made within 30 days of application, absent fault of applicant, in accordance with federal HEW regulations. Plaintiffs’ complaint may continue as class action.

Citation: 318 F. Supp. 289 (N.D. Ill. 1970), affirmed, 403 U.S. 901 (1971)
Court: Dist. Ct. N.D. Illinois
Date decided: Sep 23, 1970
Longer case name: Gladys RODRIGUEZ, individually, and on behalf of her minor children... and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated... v. Harold O. SWANK, Director, Illinois Dept of Public Aid, David Daniel, Director, Cook Cty Dept of Public Aid...
Law type: Civil
Jurisdiction level:Federal
State of origin: Illinois
Topic(s):Enforcement, Equal protection, and Public assistance
Lists:Important cases and SCOTUS no opinion
Attorneys:Sheldon Roodman, Community Legal Counsel, Chicago, Ill., for plaintiffs.
Others involved:
More info:

Case Importance

Case is important for enforcement of regulations for public benefits.

Case Details

(The syllabus is not part of the opinion, but is a summary prepared by the court reporter as a convenience.)

US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

From the opinion


DECKER, District Judge.

Plaintiffs bring this action to challenge the validity of a statewide regulation relating to the payment of benefits under the Illinois Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. The action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983; jurisdiction is invoked under 28 U.S.C. § 1343(3) and (4), and declaratory relief is sought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201 and 2202. The regulation challenged, Section 8255.1 of the Illinois Department of Public Aid Categorical Assistance Manual, provides that assistance payments for new applicants may not be made, with certain exceptions, for periods prior to the month in which the application is approved.
The action is brought in two counts, both purporting to be class actions, by Mrs. Gladys Rodriguez, an AFDC recipient, and her minor children. The defendants are the Directors of the Illinois and Cook County Departments of Public Aid and the Cook County Comptroller. The complaint alleges that Mrs. Rodriguez applied for benefits on September 22, 1969, that the application was approved in December, 1969, but that no benefits were received for September, October or November, 1969, and that only partial benefits were received for December of that year. Because count 2 seeks an injunction restraining the enforcement of the Illinois regulation on the ground that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, a three-judge court was convened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2281 and 2284. Presently before the court are motions to dismiss the complaint filed by all defendants. Count 1 of the complaint states that defendants’ failure to pay AFDC benefits to Mrs. Rodriguez within 30 days after her application, and their subsequent failure to pay benefits retroactive to the thirtieth day after application, violate regulations of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) said to require payments to eligible new applicants within such time. Accordingly, plaintiffs request a declaration that the Illinois regulation violates the Supremacy Clause of Article 6 of the Constitution and is void, and that defendants are bound to pay benefits within 30 days of application, or, if this is not done, to pay benefits retroactive to the thirtieth day after application. Finally, they seek an injunction to secure the above relief for themselves and others similarly situated.

Intervenor plaintiff Loretha Smith, on behalf of her minor children, has filed a virtually identical complaint which is not brought as a class action.

For the reasons stated herein, an order has been entered today denying all defendants’ motions to dismiss, denying defendant Swank’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, and allowing both counts of plaintiff Rodriguez’ complaint to be maintained as a class action.

Last modified: 2022-12-27 12:56
Case internal grade: A | Case internal status: OK |
Case internal status notes: Not to be confused with 7th Circuit consideration in 1974 of later permutation of case.