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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name L.C.v. Olmstead PB-GA-0001
Docket / Court 1:95-cv-01210 ( N.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Olmstead Cases
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
In this case, the Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that Americans with Disabilities Act's ban on disability discrimination forbids the unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities. This has been an enormously important holding, spawning masses of litigation, much of it seeking to ... read more >
In this case, the Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that Americans with Disabilities Act's ban on disability discrimination forbids the unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities. This has been an enormously important holding, spawning masses of litigation, much of it seeking to substitute community care for institutionalization for people with intellectual disabilities and mental illness. The case has been called the "Brown v. Board of Education" of people with disabilities, because of its call for integration not segregation.

The underlying lawsuit began in May 11, 1995, when a developmentally disabled woman filed a complaint against various Georgia state officials under 42 U.S.C. §1983, ADA §§12131-12134 and Due Process Clause in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division. The plaintiff, represented by public services counsel, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that despite the professional judgment of her psychiatric treatment team, she no longer required in-patient psychiatric treated but instead needed community-based services, defendants had continued to confined at Georgia Regional Hospital (GRH). Specially, she alleged that her continued unnecessary confinement violated her rights to freedom from undue restraint, minimally adequate treatment, freedom from illegal discrimination, and placement in the most integrated setting appropriate to her needs. An additional plaintiff was permitted to interven in January 29, 1996; this plaintiff, a 43-year-old developmentally disabled woman, alleged that she was confined unnecessarily and inappropriately at GRH and sought release into a community-based program.

On March 26, 1997, the Court (Judge Shoob) granted partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. The Court held that the State's failure to place the plaintiffs in a community-based treatment program violated Title II of ADA. In so ruling, the court rejected the State's argument that inadequate funding, not discrimination, accounted for their retention at GRH.

The defendants appealed. On April 8, 1998, the 11th Circuit affirmed the District Court's judgment, but remanded for reassessment of the State's cost-based defense. The appellate court asked the district court to consider, among other things, whether the additional expenditures necessary to treat the plaintiffs in community-based care would be unreasonable given the demands of the State's mental health budget.

The defendants were not satisfied and sought and obtained review by the Supreme Court. On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court (Justice Ginsburg) affirmed the decision of the 11th Circuit in substantial part, and remanded the case for further consideration of the appropriate relief. The Supreme Court held that unjustified segregation in institutions is discrimination not only because it perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that people with disabilities are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life, but also because confinement in an institution severely curtails everyday life activities, such as family relations, social contacts, work, educational advancement and cultural enrichment.

Under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, delivering the opinion of the court, "states are required to place persons with mental disabilities in community settings rather than in institutions when the State's treatment professionals have determined that community placement is appropriate, the transfer from institutional care to a less restrictive setting is not opposed by the affected individual, and the placement can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs of others with mental disabilities. "

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court held, the states' need to maintain a range of facilities for the care and treatment of individuals with diverse mental disabilities must be recognized. However, The Supreme Court held that the Eleventh Circuit's remand instruction to consider the cost of providing the litigants with community based services in light of the state's mental health budget was unduly restrictive. In evaluating a state's fundamental alteration defense, courts must consider not only the cost of providing community based care to the litigants, but also the range of services the state provides to others with mental disabilities and its obligation to mete out those services in an equitable manner. If the state shows that immediate relief for the plaintiffs would be inequitable "given the responsibility the state has undertaken for the care and treatment of a large and diverse population of persons with mental disabilities," it will have met the fundamental alteration defense.

On July 11, 2000, the parties reached a settlement and the Court (Judge Shoob) approved the settlement. No details on it are available.

Kunyi Zhang - 02/11/2011


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
Medicaid
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Disability
Integrated setting
Least restrictive environment
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Classification / placement
Disparate Treatment
Government Services (specify)
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Housing
Individualized planning
Placement in mental health facilities
Reasonable Accommodations
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Department of Human Resources
Georgia Regional Hospital
Plaintiff Description Two developmentally disabled women who could be treated appropriately in a community-based setting but were confined for treatment in a psychiatric unit.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
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 not on record
Case Closing Year 2000
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing DR-RI-0003 : United States v. Rhode Island (D.R.I.)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Insurer Must Pay $100.5 Million in Redlining Case
The New York Times
Written: Oct. 27, 1998
By: Joseph B. Treaster
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Nationwide Settles Virginia Redlining Suit
Property Casualty 360
Written: May. 06, 2000
By: Amanda Levin
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Links Unlocked: The Lois Curtis Story
Dixie's Land
Posted: Nov. 27, 2010
By: Robin Nelson
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:95-cv-01210 (N.D. Ga.) 02/15/2001
PB-GA-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 05/11/1995
PB-GA-0001-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction 05/30/1995
PB-GA-0001-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Plaintiff E.W's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction 07/12/1996
PB-GA-0001-0010 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction 09/02/1996
PB-GA-0001-0008 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction 09/03/1996
PB-GA-0001-0011 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
District Court Opinion 03/26/1997 (1997 WL 148674) (N.D. Ga.)
PB-GA-0001-0001 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Brief of Appellees on Appeal from the District Court 08/02/1997
PB-GA-0001-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
11th Circuit Opinion 04/08/1998 (138 F.3d 893)
PB-GA-0001-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Brief in Opposition to Petition for Certiorari 10/27/1998
PB-GA-0001-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Reply Brief of Petitioners 11/09/1998
PB-GA-0001-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Supreme Court Opinion 06/22/1999 (527 U.S. 581)
PB-GA-0001-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Supreme Court website
Joint Motion for Incorporation of Settlement Agreement into Order Upon Remand, and Settlement Agreement 06/22/2000
PB-GA-0001-0012 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Judges Barkett, Rosemary (Eleventh Circuit)
PB-GA-0001-0002
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
PB-GA-0001-0004
Shoob, Marvin Herman (N.D. Ga.)
PB-GA-0001-0001 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Caley, Steven (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-0003 | PB-GA-0001-0007 | PB-GA-0001-0009 | PB-GA-0001-0010 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Jamieson, Susan (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-0003 | PB-GA-0001-0005 | PB-GA-0001-0007 | PB-GA-0001-0009 | PB-GA-0001-0010 | PB-GA-0001-0012 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Roseborough, Teresa Wynn (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-0005
Webster, David A. (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-0005 | PB-GA-0001-0012 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Amideo, William F. (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-9000
Baker, Thurbert E. (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-0006
Bowers, Michael J. (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-0008 | PB-GA-0001-0011 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Davis, Jefferson James (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-0006 | PB-GA-0001-0012 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Dawning, Patricia (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-0006 | PB-GA-0001-0008 | PB-GA-0001-0011 | PB-GA-0001-0012
Downing, Beverly P. (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-9000
Jones, John Custer (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-0006 | PB-GA-0001-0008 | PB-GA-0001-0011 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Joy, William C. (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-9000
Pacious, Kathleen Mary (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-0006
Shingler, George P. (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-0008 | PB-GA-0001-0011 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Frohboese, Robinsue (District of Columbia)
PB-GA-0001-9000
Lee, Bill Lann (District of Columbia)
PB-GA-0001-9000
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
PB-GA-0001-9000
Stout, Patricia Rebecca (Georgia)
PB-GA-0001-9000

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