Individuals with developmental disabilities residing in Pennsylvania's ICF/MR ("intermediate care facilities/mental retardation") institutions filed this lawsuit claiming that they are inappropriately denied the opportunity to receive services in the community, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act under the 1999 Supreme Court precedent Olmstead v. L.C.. The Plaintiffs argue that they are inappropriately institutionalized. They allege that they are candidates for community placement and that they wish to live in the community, but the state's policies and procedures (including the failure to use certain state assessment tools, the limitation on the availability of Consolidated Waiver funds, and the state's failure to accept funds from the federal government's "Money Follows the Person" program) prevent their community placement. The Plaintiffs filed their complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on June 22, 2009.
The district court (Judge John E. Jones) granted the Plaintiffs' motion for class certification on September 2, 2009. The Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on on September 24, 2009, but the court denied their motion on January 25, 2010.
On November 10, 2009, a group of ICF/MR residents who wished to continue residing in institutions filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit, claiming that their interests weren't adequately represented by the class. The District Court (Judge Jones) denied this motion on March 10, 2010, finding that the proposed intervenors would not be considered part of the class (because the class was defined by its members' desire to live in the community) and that their interests were not sufficiently affected by the case, because the outcome would only affect those who wanted to leave institutions. On April 5, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the denial of intervention. 432 Fed.Appx. 94.
In June 2010, the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. The United States (DOJ Civil Rights Division) filed a brief supporting the Plaintiffs' motion. On January 27, 2011, the court granted summary judgment for the Plaintiffs. Then, on April 29, 2011, the parties entered a settlement agreement and received the court's preliminary approval.
The settlement agreement will, if adopted, create a "Planning List" for ICF/MR residents who wish to transition to the community. The State will implement an integration plan that would move 50 to 100 ICF/MR residents to the community each year for a period of five years and will continue to move individuals on the Planning List to the community until no remaining class members are left in ICF/MR facilities.
In the period leading up to the court's fairness hearing on the class settlement agreement, the group of proposed intervenors (the same individuals whose intervention had been previously denied) once again moved to intervene. On August 16, 2011, the District Court once again denied this motion. Then, on September 2, 2011, the court held a fairness hearing and gave its final approval to the settlement agreement.
The proposed intervenors, however, once again appealed their denial of intervention to the Third Circuit. On December 12, 2012, the Court of Appeals reversed the district court, finding this time that the proposed intervenors had established that they would be adversely affected by the implementation of the settlement agreement, as some ICF/MR institutions would likely close as a result. Therefore, intervention in conjunction with the remedial stage was appropriate. The Court of Appeals ordered that the District Court's September 2011 approval of the settlement agreement be vacated and that the pro-institution individuals be permitted to intervene in order to challenge the settlement and seek decertification of the class. 701 F.3d 938.
On June 11, 2014, Plaintiff and Defendants entered into a revised settlement agreement. The revised settlement agreement was a result of mediation between the plaintiffs, defendants, and the intervenors - thus now recognizing all applicable interests in the case. The revised settlement agreement still utilizes a planning list but at an adequate volume and pace given DPW's budget constraints and administrative burdens. On September 25, 2014, the District Court approved the revised settlement agreement and closed this case. Beth Kurtz - 03/10/2013
Maria Ricaurte - 02/22/2016