On April 27, 1989, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act against various Ohio state officials in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Plaintiffs, represented by legal services, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that the state was providing appropriate community-based services.
On March 21, 1990, the Court certified a class consisting of: all "developmentally disabled Ohioans who are, or will be, in need of community housing and services which are normalized, home-like and integrated, and a subclass who, in addition to being members of the class, are, or will be, Medicaid recipients."
On December 14, 1993, the Court (Judge George C. Smith) declined to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint. Martin v. Voinovich, 840 F. Supp. 1175 (S.D. Ohio 1993).
On December 11, 1992, the District Court appointed local civil rights attorney Benson A. Wolman to serve as a Mediator in the case. During the months that followed, until July 1993, the Mediator conducted intense settlement negotiations with the parties in an attempt to resolve the case. When the case did not settle, the plaintiffs filed their second amended class action complaint on August 17, 1993. Defendants moved to dismiss the action on September 23, 1993.
On December 14, 1993, the District Court (Judge George C. Smith) denied defendants' motion in part and granted in part. Judge Smith held that: (1) plaintiffs stated causes of action for violation of Rehabilitation Act and ADA, Developmental Disabilities Act, of due process and equal protection. He further held that the Medicaid statutes and regulations created a right, enforceable under § 1983, that inspections of intermediate care facilities for mentally retarded take place. Martin v. Voinovich, 840 F.Supp. 1175 (S.D. Ohio 1993).
Discovery continued until the parties agreed to another attempt at settlement in August 1996. Discovery was stayed during negotiations which lasted over two years. On December 13, 1999, Judge George C. Smith held a conference with the parties to assess the progress of settlement. He then referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Norah M. King to conduct further settlement conferences.
On April 25, 2000, plaintiffs filed their third amended complaint to add additional allegations in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the ADA case Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581, 119 S.Ct. 2176, 144 L.Ed.2d 540 (1999). Defendants moved to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. Plaintiffs filed a cross-motion for partial summary judgment.
On September 19, 2002, the Court denied in part and granted in part Defendant's motion to dismiss and denied Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. Martin v. Taft, 222 F. Supp. 2d 940 (S.D. Ohio 2002). The Court encouraged the parties to engage in settlement discussions prior to the bench trial.
The parties reached a tentative settlement of the matter and on June 29, 2004, filed their Joint Motion to Approve Consent Judgment. The Court issued preliminary approval of the parties' settlement agreement on July 7, 2004.
Certain advocacy groups then generated support to derail the settlement, resulting in thousands of purported class members filing form objections with the Court. Objectors also filed motions to decertify the class and to remove class counsel. The objectors contended that the proposed Consent Order only addressed the concerns of the named plaintiffs and not the whole class and therefore created a conflict with class counsel. The parties subsequently withdrew the Joint Motion to Approve Consent Judgment.
On February 15, 2005, the Court appointed local attorney Mark Landes as Special Master.
On September 13, 2005, the Special Master recommended that the Court denied Defendants' motions to remove counsel and decertify the class. The Court adopted those recommendations on November 28, 2005.
The Court again issued preliminary approval of the settlement agreement on December 5, 2006.
On March 5, 2007, the Court approved the settlement agreement and issued a consent order. Among other things, Defendants agreed to increase the number of waiver slots available and increase efforts to provide affordable community housing.Haley Waller - 04/10/2011