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Case Name Capitol People First v. Department of Developmental Services ID-CA-0007
Docket / Court 2002-038715 ( State Court )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Intellectual Disability (Facility)
Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Olmstead Cases
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On January 25, 2002, several developmentally disabled residents of California filed a lawsuit against the State of California and its Department of Developmental Services in the California Superior Court for the County of Alameda. The lawsuit was filed under California's Lanterman Act; the ... read more >
On January 25, 2002, several developmentally disabled residents of California filed a lawsuit against the State of California and its Department of Developmental Services in the California Superior Court for the County of Alameda. The lawsuit was filed under California's Lanterman Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq.; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701; and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of a class of California residents with developmental disabilities who are institutionalized or at risk of institutionalization, alleging that the state failed to place class members in the least restrictive environment commensurate with their needs, creating unnecessary institutionalization.

Although the Superior Court (Judge Ronald Sabraw) denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification, the California appellate court (Judge Timothy Reardon) reversed the trial court's decision and granted class certification. Capitol People First v. Dep't of Developmental Serv., 2007 WL 2772868 (Cal. App. 1 Dist. Sep. 25, 2007) (No. A113168). The trial court found that there was insufficient commonality of issues, that the representative plaintiffs would not adequately represent the putative class members, and that a class remedy would be less appropriate than individual remedies.

As to the commonality requirement, the appellate court faulted the trial court for focusing too narrowly on the details of allegations relating to the representative plaintiffs, "rather than taking a broader, systemic view concentrating on respondents' policies and practices." The appellate court found that the trial court's belief that the individualized nature of each plaintiff's individual program plan would unduly restrict the use of statistical proof at trial "would turn all pattern and practice class litigation upside down."

As to adequacy of representation, the trial court cited an argument made by a group of intervening institutionalized residents who argued that the relief sought by the plaintiffs would result in some people being removed from institutions who desired to remain there. The appellate court rejected this argument, noting that the interveners represented no more than a fraction of the class and that, at any rate, the interveners' argument went to the merits of the case and to "different philosophical perspectives on the issue of institutionalization," as opposed to any "legally cognizable antagonism."

Lastly, the appellate court found that the individual remedies proposed by the trial court were inadequate. The court reasoned that, before improved assessment and services tailored to the unique needs of individuals may be realized, "the policies that undergird decisionmaking and allocation of resources must be changed."

On April 24, 2009, the Superior Court (Judge Robert Freedman) approved a settlement agreement reached by the parties. According to a Disability Rights California press release, "The settlement provides for additional funds for case management to assist class members in state-run institutions called developmental centers (DC); improved information to class members and training for DC staff about community living options; increased state-level coordination of services for people diagnosed with developmental and mental health disabilities; and continued funding and program efforts to provide community living alternatives for class members." The settlement will remain in effect for three years, during which time Disability Rights California will monitor the state's performance of the settlement terms.

Jordan Rossen - 02/04/2011


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Disability
Integrated setting
Least restrictive environment
General
Classification / placement
Individualized planning
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Title XIX of the Social Security (Medicaid) Act, 42 U.S.C §1396
State law
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Department of Developmental Services
Plaintiff Description Certified class of all California residents with developmental disabilities who are institutionalized or at risk of institutionalization
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2009 - 2012
Case Closing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
2002-038715 (State Court of Appeals) 05/08/2006
ID-CA-0007-9001.pdf | Detail
Westlaw
2002-038715 (State Trial Court) 02/14/2008
ID-CA-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Westlaw
General Documents
Demurrer by State Defendants to Plaintiffs' Verified Complaint 05/07/2002
ID-CA-0007-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
State Defendants' Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of their Demurrer to Plaintiffs' Verified Complaint 05/07/2002
ID-CA-0007-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Plaintiffs' Opposition to State Defendants' Demurrer to Plaintiffs' Verified Complaint 06/03/2002
ID-CA-0007-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order Overruling Defendents' Demurrer to Plaintiffs' Verified Complaint 07/10/2002 (2002 WL 32820139)
ID-CA-0007-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Fifth Amended Complaint 07/07/2005
ID-CA-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to the State Defendants' Answer to Plaintiffs' Fifth Amended Complaint 12/27/2005
ID-CA-0007-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification 12/30/2005 (2005 WL 6013463)
ID-CA-0007-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Findings Letter from Disability Rights California 01/04/2006
ID-CA-0007-0008.pdf | Detail
State Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to Affirmative Defenses 01/11/2006
ID-CA-0007-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order Granting and Denying Motions of Plaintiffs for Judgment on the Pleadings Regarding Affirmative Defenses; Granting in Part Defendants' Discovery Motions; Denying the Motion of Plaintiffs to Compel Further Deposition Testimony; and Staying Action 03/06/2006 (2005 WL 3544580)
ID-CA-0007-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Appellants' Opening Brief 08/08/2006
ID-CA-0007-0004.pdf | Detail
Amicus Brief by the Impact Fund 09/27/2006
ID-CA-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Case Update by Protection & Advocacy, Inc. 10/03/2006
ID-CA-0007-0007.pdf | Detail
Amicus Brief by the Washington Protection And Advocacy System 11/07/2006
ID-CA-0007-0003.pdf | Detail
Brief of Respondent-Defendant (Department of Developmental Services) 11/21/2006 (2006 WL 3907584)
ID-CA-0007-0016.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Brief of Respondent-Defendant-Intervenors (CASH/PCR & CAR) 11/29/2006 (2006 WL 3907585)
ID-CA-0007-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Court of Appeals Opinion Reversing Trial Court Order Denying Motion for Class Certification 09/25/2007 (155 Cal.App.4th 676)
ID-CA-0007-0020.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Press Release from Disability Rights California 04/27/2009
ID-CA-0007-0018.pdf | Detail
Memorandum (Press Release) from Disability Rights California 04/27/2009
ID-CA-0007-0019.pdf | Detail
Judges Freedman, Robert B. (State Trial Court)
ID-CA-0007-9000
Reardon, Timothy A. (State Appellate Court)
ID-CA-0007-0020
Rivera, Maria P. (State Appellate Court)
ID-CA-0007-0020
Sabraw, Ronald M. (State Trial Court)
ID-CA-0007-0005 | ID-CA-0007-0012 | ID-CA-0007-0015 | ID-CA-0007-9000
Sepulveda, Patricia K. (State Appellate Court)
ID-CA-0007-0020
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bona, Jarod M. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0004 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Branch, Sujatha Jagadeesh (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0004 | ID-CA-0007-0007
Fowler, John W. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0011 | ID-CA-0007-9000
Gelber, Eric R. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0004 | ID-CA-0007-0011
Goldblatt, Ellen Sue (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0004 | ID-CA-0007-0007 | ID-CA-0007-0011 | ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Hardy, Todd. M. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001
O'Connor, Christopher M. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0004
Potter, Amy E. Wallace (California)
ID-CA-0007-0004
Pyle, Michael T. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0004 | ID-CA-0007-0011 | ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Rita, Sherri L. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001
Roberts, Margaret P. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0004
Rosenbaum, Stephen A. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0011
Schur, Dara L. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0004
Tracy, Michael (California)
ID-CA-0007-0004
Wheeler, Christina M. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Bobak, M. Lois (California)
ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Boley, Todd Alexander (California)
ID-CA-0007-0016 | ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Carson, Susan (California)
ID-CA-0007-0009 | ID-CA-0007-0010 | ID-CA-0007-0016 | ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Chow, Carol (California)
ID-CA-0007-9000
Cole, Rufus L. (California)
ID-CA-0007-9000
Epstein, Bette B. (California)
ID-CA-0007-9000
Flaherty, Jocelyn A. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0009 | ID-CA-0007-0010
Hamasaki, Lisa C (California)
ID-CA-0007-9001
Haven, Peter T. (California)
ID-CA-0007-9000
Hewitt, Henry S. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0016 | ID-CA-0007-9000
Humes, James M. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0009 | ID-CA-0007-0010
Kronenberg, William S. (California)
ID-CA-0007-9000
Lockyer, Bill (California)
ID-CA-0007-0009 | ID-CA-0007-0010 | ID-CA-0007-0016
Mackenzie, Bruce (California)
ID-CA-0007-9000
McKinney, Patrick R. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0017 | ID-CA-0007-9000
Musfelt, Duane (California)
ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Peterson, Mark D. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0017 | ID-CA-0007-9000
Press, Douglas (California)
ID-CA-0007-0016
Other Lawyers Affeldt, John T. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0002
Campins, Julia (California)
ID-CA-0007-0002
Hererra, Irma (California)
ID-CA-0007-0002
Kazantzis, Kyra A. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0003
Rothschild, Richard (California)
ID-CA-0007-0002
Schlosser, Alan Lawrence (California)
ID-CA-0007-0002
Seligman, Brad (California)
ID-CA-0007-0002
Sellstrom, Oren M. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0002
Su, Julie A (California)
ID-CA-0007-0002
Trasvina, John David (California)
ID-CA-0007-0002
Zahradka, James (California)
ID-CA-0007-0003

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