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Case Name Capitol People First v. Department of Developmental Services ID-CA-0007
Docket / Court 2002-038715 ( State Court )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Intellectual Disability (Facility)
Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Olmstead Cases
Attorney Organization ACLU of Northern California
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On January 25, 2002, several developmentally disabled residents of California filed a lawsuit against the State of California and its Department of Developmental Services in the California Superior Court for the County of Alameda. The lawsuit was filed under California's Lanterman Act; the ... read more >
On January 25, 2002, several developmentally disabled residents of California filed a lawsuit against the State of California and its Department of Developmental Services in the California Superior Court for the County of Alameda. The lawsuit was filed under California's Lanterman Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq.; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701; and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of a class of California residents with developmental disabilities who are institutionalized or at risk of institutionalization, alleging that the state failed to place class members in the least restrictive environment commensurate with their needs, creating unnecessary institutionalization.

Although the Superior Court (Judge Ronald Sabraw) denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification, the California appellate court (Judge Timothy Reardon) reversed the trial court's decision and granted class certification. Capitol People First v. Dep't of Developmental Serv., 2007 WL 2772868 (Cal. App. 1 Dist. Sep. 25, 2007) (No. A113168). The trial court found that there was insufficient commonality of issues, that the representative plaintiffs would not adequately represent the putative class members, and that a class remedy would be less appropriate than individual remedies.

As to the commonality requirement, the appellate court faulted the trial court for focusing too narrowly on the details of allegations relating to the representative plaintiffs, "rather than taking a broader, systemic view concentrating on respondents' policies and practices." The appellate court found that the trial court's belief that the individualized nature of each plaintiff's individual program plan would unduly restrict the use of statistical proof at trial "would turn all pattern and practice class litigation upside down."

As to adequacy of representation, the trial court cited an argument made by a group of intervening institutionalized residents who argued that the relief sought by the plaintiffs would result in some people being removed from institutions who desired to remain there. The appellate court rejected this argument, noting that the interveners represented no more than a fraction of the class and that, at any rate, the interveners' argument went to the merits of the case and to "different philosophical perspectives on the issue of institutionalization," as opposed to any "legally cognizable antagonism."

Lastly, the appellate court found that the individual remedies proposed by the trial court were inadequate. The court reasoned that, before improved assessment and services tailored to the unique needs of individuals may be realized, "the policies that undergird decisionmaking and allocation of resources must be changed."

On April 24, 2009, the Superior Court (Judge Robert Freedman) approved a settlement agreement reached by the parties. According to a Disability Rights California press release, "The settlement provides for additional funds for case management to assist class members in state-run institutions called developmental centers (DC); improved information to class members and training for DC staff about community living options; increased state-level coordination of services for people diagnosed with developmental and mental health disabilities; and continued funding and program efforts to provide community living alternatives for class members." The settlement was set to remain in effect for three years, during which time Disability Rights California would monitor the state's performance of the settlement terms.

We have no further information on this case, but it is presumed closed.

Jordan Rossen - 02/04/2011

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Integrated setting
Least restrictive environment
Classification / placement
Individualized planning
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
State law
Title XIX of the Social Security (Medicaid) Act, 42 U.S.C §1396
Defendant(s) Department of Developmental Services
Plaintiff Description Certified class of all California residents with developmental disabilities who are institutionalized or at risk of institutionalization
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU of Northern California
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se 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 2009 - 2012
Filing Year 2002
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
2002-038715 (State Court of Appeals)
ID-CA-0007-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2006
Source: Westlaw
2002-038715 (State Trial Court)
ID-CA-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/14/2008
Source: Westlaw
General Documents
Demurrer by State Defendants to Plaintiffs' Verified Complaint
ID-CA-0007-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2002
Source: Westlaw
State Defendants' Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of their Demurrer to Plaintiffs' Verified Complaint
ID-CA-0007-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2002
Source: Westlaw
Plaintiffs' Opposition to State Defendants' Demurrer to Plaintiffs' Verified Complaint
ID-CA-0007-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2002
Source: Westlaw
Order Overruling Defendents' Demurrer to Plaintiffs' Verified Complaint (2002 WL 32820139)
ID-CA-0007-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/10/2002
Source: Westlaw
Fifth Amended Complaint
ID-CA-0007-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 07/07/2005
Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to the State Defendants' Answer to Plaintiffs' Fifth Amended Complaint
ID-CA-0007-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/27/2005
Source: Westlaw
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification (2005 WL 6013463)
ID-CA-0007-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/30/2005
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Findings Letter from Disability Rights California
ID-CA-0007-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/04/2006
State Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings as to Affirmative Defenses
ID-CA-0007-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/11/2006
Source: Westlaw
Order Granting and Denying Motions of Plaintiffs for Judgment on the Pleadings Regarding Affirmative Defenses; Granting in Part Defendants' Discovery Motions; Denying the Motion of Plaintiffs to Compel Further Deposition Testimony; and Staying Action (2005 WL 3544580)
ID-CA-0007-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/06/2006
Source: Westlaw
Appellants' Opening Brief
ID-CA-0007-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/08/2006
Amicus Brief by the Impact Fund
ID-CA-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/27/2006
Case Update by Protection & Advocacy, Inc.
ID-CA-0007-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/03/2006
Amicus Brief by the Washington Protection And Advocacy System
ID-CA-0007-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/07/2006
Brief of Respondent-Defendant (Department of Developmental Services) (2006 WL 3907584)
ID-CA-0007-0016.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/21/2006
Source: Westlaw
Brief of Respondent-Defendant-Intervenors (CASH/PCR & CAR) (2006 WL 3907585)
ID-CA-0007-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/29/2006
Source: Westlaw
Court of Appeals Opinion Reversing Trial Court Order Denying Motion for Class Certification (155 Cal.App.4th 676)
ID-CA-0007-0020.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/25/2007
Source: Westlaw
Press Release from Disability Rights California
ID-CA-0007-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/27/2009
Memorandum (Press Release) from Disability Rights California
ID-CA-0007-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/27/2009
Judges Freedman, Robert B. (State Trial Court)
Reardon, Timothy A. (State Appellate Court)
Rivera, Maria P. (State Appellate Court)
Sabraw, Ronald M. (State Trial Court)
ID-CA-0007-0005 | ID-CA-0007-0012 | ID-CA-0007-0015 | ID-CA-0007-9000
Sepulveda, Patricia K. (State Appellate Court)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bona, Jarod M. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0004 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Branch, Sujatha Jagadeesh (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0004 | ID-CA-0007-0007
Fowler, John W. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0011 | ID-CA-0007-9000
Gelber, Eric R. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0004 | ID-CA-0007-0011
Goldblatt, Ellen Sue (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0004 | ID-CA-0007-0007 | ID-CA-0007-0011 | ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Hardy, Todd. M. (California)
O'Connor, Christopher M. (California)
Potter, Amy E. Wallace (California)
Pyle, Michael T. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0004 | ID-CA-0007-0011 | ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Rita, Sherri L. (California)
Roberts, Margaret P. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0004
Rosenbaum, Stephen A. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0001 | ID-CA-0007-0011
Schur, Dara L. (California)
Tracy, Michael (California)
Wheeler, Christina M. (California)
Defendant's Lawyers Bobak, M. Lois (California)
ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Boley, Todd Alexander (California)
ID-CA-0007-0016 | ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Carson, Susan (California)
ID-CA-0007-0009 | ID-CA-0007-0010 | ID-CA-0007-0016 | ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Chow, Carol (California)
Cole, Rufus L. (California)
Epstein, Bette B. (California)
Flaherty, Jocelyn A. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0009 | ID-CA-0007-0010
Hamasaki, Lisa C (California)
Haven, Peter T. (California)
Hewitt, Henry S. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0016 | ID-CA-0007-9000
Humes, James M. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0009 | ID-CA-0007-0010
Kronenberg, William S. (California)
Lockyer, Bill (California)
ID-CA-0007-0009 | ID-CA-0007-0010 | ID-CA-0007-0016
Mackenzie, Bruce (California)
McKinney, Patrick R. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0017 | ID-CA-0007-9000
Musfelt, Duane (California)
ID-CA-0007-9000 | ID-CA-0007-9001
Peterson, Mark D. (California)
ID-CA-0007-0017 | ID-CA-0007-9000
Press, Douglas (California)
Other Lawyers Affeldt, John T. (California)
Campins, Julia (California)
Hererra, Irma (California)
Kazantzis, Kyra A. (California)
Rothschild, Richard (California)
Schlosser, Alan Lawrence (California)
Seligman, Brad (California)
Sellstrom, Oren M. (California)
Su, Julie A (California)
Trasvina, John David (California)
Zahradka, James (California)

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