In a case of national first impression, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled unanimously on March 12 in favor of CLASI client Cindy Gonzalez and held that federal law prohibited the State of Delaware from suing her for over $200,000 after it had already pursued an administrative claim against her for a $6,000 SNAP (Food Stamp) overpayment. This case will prevent the State from taking similarly harsh and punitive actions against SNAP recipients in the future.
The decision in Cindy Gonzalez v. State of Delaware was the result of collaboration between CLASI Advocacy Director John S. Whitelaw (who argued the case en banc), CLASI Staff Attorney Kate Sell, and Senior Attorney Travis England from the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ). We are immensely grateful for Travis and NCLEJ’s critical work on this important case. We also appreciate the efforts of Pepper Hamilton LLP attorneys Joanna Cline and Kenneth Listwak, as well as those of Georgetown Law Professor and national SNAP expert David Super, who wrote a compelling amicus brief in support of our case.
This case stemmed from the State of Delaware’s unprecedented action to sue our client for over $200,000 after it had already won an administrative claim against her. The Delaware Supreme Court confirmed that in this type of case, the Food Stamp Act requires that the State must choose between pursuing an administrative claim or filing a lawsuit – it cannot do both. The decision also contains important restrictions on the State’s ability to use offensive collateral estoppel against our clients.
Read the decision.
View the oral argument.