Children's Rights cheapens its image with demands

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: October 8, 2012

HOUSING is worth nearly 400 percent more in Manhattan than it is in Oklahoma City. Heating and cooling a home costs about 70 percent more. New Yorkers have to make more to live comfortably.

New York-based Children's Rights, the successful plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Oklahoma's foster care system, wants New York legal fees for an Oklahoma case. New York legal fees are higher than Oklahoma legal fees.

Children's Rights sued the Department of Human Services on behalf of Oklahoma foster children, alleging that DHS policies harmed children or left them at risk of being harmed. Sought by Children's Rights is $9.5 million in legal fees for a case that never went to trial. That $9.5 million would buy a lot more in Oklahoma than it would in New York.

If Children's Rights prevails, $9.5 million will be transferred from the wallets of Oklahoma taxpayers and the agency charged with running the foster care system. The more Children's Rights gets in fees, the less will be available for a system serving some of the state's neediest citizens.

The Department of Human Services is fighting the fee request. We noted before that the claim amounts to $11.67 per New York minute, based on $700 an hour and the number of hours Children's Rights says it put into the case, which was settled out of court in January.

Attorneys representing the plaintiff have a right to recover fees from a case they won. The question is how much they should get. This question will ultimately be determined by a court, which may or may not take into account the relative cost of living in Oklahoma vs. New York.

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