Starting in at least 2011, officials of the State of Illinois pursued plans to close up to four State Operated Developmental Centers (SODCs) within 2.5 years. SODCs are facilities for Illinois adults with severe developmental disabilities. In February 2012, Governor Quinn announced that Illinois would close Jacksonville Developmental Center and Murray Developmental Center by October 31, 2012 and 2013 respectively. The closure plans were undertaken to shift resources towards expanding community-based care and to deal with Illinois's $13 billion budget deficit.
Illinois closed the Jacksonville center on December 3, 2012. When this suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, on February 19, 2013, Illinois was in the course of transferring residents of the Murray Center to community-based options so as to enable the facility's closure. The guardians of individuals residing in these institutions filed this suit individually on behalf of their charges and as a class action for all similarly situated disabled individuals. Some named plaintiffs claimed to have been told that Illinois would be closing all SODCs in the state. Thus the plaintiffs opposed the closures of the Jackson and Murray centers and the anticipated closure of the rest of the SODCs and brought the suit seeking declaratory relief, attorneys' fees, and an injunction preventing the planned closures.
The plaintiffs argued that Illinois had not demonstrated that the community-based setting approach would be adequate or appropriate for individuals who are severely and profoundly developmentally disabled. The plaintiffs further argued that the closure plans discriminated against the class by targeting developmental disabilities for greater funding reductions than other disabilities, providing the class members services less effective than those provided to individuals with other disabilities, creating a substantial risk of harm, and limiting non-ambulatory individuals' access to community residential settings. The plaintiffs brought their claims under The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794), Olmstead v. L.C.
(527 U.S. 581 (1999)), 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (for state infringement of equal protection), and various federal and state Medicaid laws. In effect Plaintiffs argued for the right to remain institutionalized.
On February 27, 2013, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction.
On April 15, 2013, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division filed a statement of interest opposing the injunction and the plaintiffs' interpretation of the ADA and Olmstead
. The DOJ explained its position that the ADA is a statute for integration, not segregation.
On May 30, 2013, the Court (Judge Marvin E. Aspen) granted the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order. The order, which was entered on June 12, 2013, was to prevent Illinois from transferring or discharging residents of the Murray Developmental Center without their legal guardians' written consent. Illinois was also restricted from sending residents on overnight transition visits. The order was to last until the court ruled on the motion for preliminary injunction.
On June 20, 2013, the Court restricted the plaintiffs' claims to those dealing with the Jacksonville and Murray centers, finding the potential closing of all SODCs to be too speculative to be ripe for adjudication. 2013 WL 3168758 (N.D. Ill. 2013). The Court also rejected the plaintiffs' interpretation of Olmstead
, stating "[T]his is not an Olmstead case." On June 28, 2013, the Court clarified that the restraining order allowed the state to consent to the transfer of wards of the Office of the State Guardian. In other words, the state as legal guardian was empowered to consent to the transfer of certain residents.
On October 8, 2013, Judge Aspen granted in part and denied in part the defendants' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claims. The court dismissed counts IV and V against DHS and dismissed all claims against Governor Quinn. The court dismissed count III (the Olmstead claim) entirely and count IV to the extent it alleged violations of state regulatory laws relating to Medicaid. This left the equal protection claim, the ADA claim, the Rehab Act claim, and violations of federal laws pertaining to Medicaid. 2013 WL 5548929 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 8, 2013).
In January 2014, the court held a hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction and possible permanent injunction. On July 21, 2014, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and lifted the temporary restraining order previously entered on June 12, 2013. 60 F. Supp. 3d 856 (N.D. Ill. 2014). The plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Seventh Circuit.
On October 15, 2015, the Seventh Circuit (Judge Posner) affirmed the district court's ruling, holding that the harm to the state if the injunction were granted would outweigh the harm caused to residents if the injunction weren't granted. 803 F.3d 872 (7th Cir. 2015).
The case is ongoing.Kenneth Gray - 07/08/2013
Jessica Kincaid - 02/27/2016