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Case Name Coffelt v. Dept. of Developmental Serv. ID-CA-0001
Docket / Court 916401 ( State Court )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Intellectual Disability (Facility)
Special Collection Olmstead Cases
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On March 1, 1990, a class action lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Francisco, on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities and against the State of California, the Department of Developmental Services, the Department of Finance, the San Andreas ... read more >
On March 1, 1990, a class action lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Francisco, on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities and against the State of California, the Department of Developmental Services, the Department of Finance, the San Andreas Regional Center, the Golden Gate Regional Center, the Regional Center of the East Bay, and the North Bay Regional Center. The plaintiffs, represented by Protection and Advocacy, Inc., sought declaratory and injunctive relief and a writ of mandate, alleging violations of state statutes, particularly the Lanterman Act, and the California Constitution.

According to the Complaint, 2096 individuals with developmental disabilities were waiting for community referrals in California in November 1989. As a result of insufficient funding, there were neither enough community placements available nor sufficient staff to develop and administer the necessary individualized planning. As a result, members of the plaintiff class were forced to reside in institutions or with elderly parents. California placed persons with developmental disabilities at a heightened risk of physical injury and limited their interactions with non-disabled persons. The plaintiffs also claimed that the absence of individualized programming caused their independent living skills to deteriorate. For instance, one of the named plaintiffs lost the ability to use the toilet and was placed in diapers after he was unnecessarily institutionalized.

In 1993, the parties entered into a Settlement Agreement, which the court apparently approved. The purpose of the consent decree was to ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities would enjoy stable and high-quality community living arrangements. The terms of the settlement addressed everything from program funding and staff wages to specialized services for disabled persons with mental illness or a history of sex offense, and from individualized planning and assessment to increasing the availability of community placements.

On October 7, 1996, Protection & Advocacy issued their sixth report on the implementation of the settlement agreement. Although the lawsuit only named four regional centers as defendants, the State of California succeeded in having all seventeen Californian regional centers sign on to the agreement. The report detailed successes in the reduction of the institutionalized population, increase in community placement, improvements in services targeted at individual needs, the quality assurance program, emergency and crisis intervention, and overall quality of life. The report also raised some concerns, such as funding caps for supported living services, but noted grievance processes allowed consumers to appeal such decisions. Success seemed to be correlated with staff development and public education efforts.

On April 15, 1997, Protection & Advocacy issued their seventh report on implementation, in which they addressed a challenge to the settlement. Specifically, there had been a public call for a moratorium on deinstitutionalization, based on mortality studies. The report, generated by the plaintiffs' attorneys, argued that the quality of life enjoyed by persons placed in the community was empirically superior to that experienced in an institution. The report both celebrated the State's accomplishments and noted specifically what needed to be done in the areas of person centered planning, service coordination, community living options, affordable housing and property ownership, skill development, crisis and emergency services, quality assurance, and funding.

We do not have the docket for this lawsuit and the file contains no additional information.

Elizabeth Chilcoat - 06/20/2006
Andrew Junker - 12/09/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Disability
Integrated setting
General
Classification / placement
Deinstitutionalization/decarceration
Funding
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Individualized planning
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental Disability
Autism
Cerebral palsy
Developmental disability without intellectual disability
Down syndrome
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Schizophrenia
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) the State of California, the Department of Developmental Services, the Department of Finance, the San Andreas Regional Center, the Golden Gate Regional Center, the Regional Center of the East Bay, the North Bay Regional Center
Plaintiff Description 2096 developmentally disabled persons in California awaiting community referrals
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 1993 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Case Listing ID-CA-0004 : Richard S. v. Dept. of Developmental Services of California (C.D. Cal.)
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Petition for Writ of Mandate 02/27/1990
ID-CA-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Settlement Agreement 07/01/1993
ID-CA-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Memorandum re: Coffelt Implementation Update No.6 (Supported Life Conference Edition) 10/07/1996
ID-CA-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Coffelt Implementation Update No. 7 04/15/1997
ID-CA-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Blakemore, Catherine J. (California)
ID-CA-0001-0001 | ID-CA-0001-0003 | ID-CA-0001-0005 | ID-CA-0001-0007
Crisp, Virginia A. (California)
ID-CA-0001-0001
Gelber, Eric R. (California)
ID-CA-0001-0001 | ID-CA-0001-0003 | ID-CA-0001-0005 | ID-CA-0001-0007
Goldblatt, Ellen Sue (California)
ID-CA-0001-0001 | ID-CA-0001-0003 | ID-CA-0001-0005 | ID-CA-0001-0007
Gross, Joseph (California)
ID-CA-0001-0007
Juarez, Daniel (California)
ID-CA-0001-0003 | ID-CA-0001-0005
Swain, Kimberly C. (California)
ID-CA-0001-0001 | ID-CA-0001-0003 | ID-CA-0001-0005 | ID-CA-0001-0007
Defendant's Lawyers Epstein, Bette B. (California)
ID-CA-0001-0007
Lungren, Daniel E. (California)
ID-CA-0001-0007
Meyers, Beverly R. (California)
ID-CA-0001-0007
Wald, Stephanie (California)
ID-CA-0001-0007
Other Lawyers None on record

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