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Case Name L.C. v. Olmstead PB-GA-0001
Docket / Court 1:95-cv-01210 ( N.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Olmstead Cases
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
In this case, the Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that Americans with Disabilities Act's ban on disability discrimination forbids the unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities. This has been an enormously important holding, spawning masses of litigation, much of it seeking to ... read more >
In this case, the Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that Americans with Disabilities Act's ban on disability discrimination forbids the unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities. This has been an enormously important holding, spawning masses of litigation, much of it seeking to substitute community care for institutionalization for people with intellectual disabilities and mental illness. The case has been called the "Brown v. Board of Education" of people with disabilities, because of its call for integration not segregation.

The underlying lawsuit began in May 11, 1995, when a developmentally disabled woman filed a complaint against various Georgia state officials under 42 U.S.C. §1983, ADA §§12131-12134 and Due Process Clause in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division. The plaintiff, represented by public services counsel, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that despite the professional judgment of her psychiatric treatment team, she no longer required in-patient psychiatric treated but instead needed community-based services, defendants had continued to confined at Georgia Regional Hospital (GRH). Specially, she alleged that her continued unnecessary confinement violated her rights to freedom from undue restraint, minimally adequate treatment, freedom from illegal discrimination, and placement in the most integrated setting appropriate to her needs. An additional plaintiff was permitted to interven in January 29, 1996; this plaintiff, a 43-year-old developmentally disabled woman, alleged that she was confined unnecessarily and inappropriately at GRH and sought release into a community-based program.

On March 26, 1997, the Court (Judge Shoob) granted partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. The Court held that the State's failure to place the plaintiffs in a community-based treatment program violated Title II of ADA. In so ruling, the court rejected the State's argument that inadequate funding, not discrimination, accounted for their retention at GRH.

The defendants appealed. On April 8, 1998, the 11th Circuit affirmed the District Court's judgment, but remanded for reassessment of the State's cost-based defense. The appellate court asked the district court to consider, among other things, whether the additional expenditures necessary to treat the plaintiffs in community-based care would be unreasonable given the demands of the State's mental health budget.

The defendants were not satisfied and sought and obtained review by the Supreme Court. On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court (Justice Ginsburg) affirmed the decision of the 11th Circuit in substantial part, and remanded the case for further consideration of the appropriate relief. The Supreme Court held that unjustified segregation in institutions is discrimination not only because it perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that people with disabilities are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life, but also because confinement in an institution severely curtails everyday life activities, such as family relations, social contacts, work, educational advancement and cultural enrichment.

Under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, delivering the opinion of the court, "states are required to place persons with mental disabilities in community settings rather than in institutions when the State's treatment professionals have determined that community placement is appropriate, the transfer from institutional care to a less restrictive setting is not opposed by the affected individual, and the placement can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs of others with mental disabilities. "

Nonetheless, the Supreme Court held, the states' need to maintain a range of facilities for the care and treatment of individuals with diverse mental disabilities must be recognized. However, The Supreme Court held that the Eleventh Circuit's remand instruction to consider the cost of providing the litigants with community based services in light of the state's mental health budget was unduly restrictive. In evaluating a state's fundamental alteration defense, courts must consider not only the cost of providing community based care to the litigants, but also the range of services the state provides to others with mental disabilities and its obligation to mete out those services in an equitable manner. If the state shows that immediate relief for the plaintiffs would be inequitable "given the responsibility the state has undertaken for the care and treatment of a large and diverse population of persons with mental disabilities," it will have met the fundamental alteration defense.

On July 11, 2000, the parties reached a settlement and the Court (Judge Shoob) approved the settlement. No details on it are available.

Kunyi Zhang - 02/11/2011

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Benefit Source
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Hospital/Health Department
Integrated setting
Least restrictive environment
Mental impairment
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Classification / placement
Disparate Treatment
Government Services (specify)
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Individualized planning
Placement in mental health facilities
Reasonable Accommodations
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Department of Human Resources
Georgia Regional Hospital
Plaintiff Description Two developmentally disabled women who could be treated appropriately in a community-based setting but were confined for treatment in a psychiatric unit.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
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
Filed 1995
Case Closing Year 2000
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing DR-RI-0003 : United States v. Rhode Island (D.R.I.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Unlocked: The Lois Curtis Story
Dixie's Land
Date: Nov. 27, 2010
By: Robin Nelson
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

1:95-cv-01210 (N.D. Ga.)
PB-GA-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/15/2001
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
PB-GA-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/11/1995
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction
PB-GA-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/30/1995
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Plaintiff E.W's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction
PB-GA-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/12/1996
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction
PB-GA-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/02/1996
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction
PB-GA-0001-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/03/1996
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
District Court Opinion (1997 WL 148674) (N.D. Ga.)
PB-GA-0001-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/26/1997
Source: Westlaw
Brief of Appellees on Appeal from the District Court
PB-GA-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/02/1997
Source: Westlaw
11th Circuit Opinion (138 F.3d 893)
PB-GA-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/08/1998
Source: Westlaw
Brief in Opposition to Petition for Certiorari
PB-GA-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/27/1998
Source: Westlaw
Reply Brief of Petitioners
PB-GA-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/09/1998
Source: Westlaw
Supreme Court Opinion (527 U.S. 581)
PB-GA-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/22/1999
Source: Supreme Court website
Joint Motion for Incorporation of Settlement Agreement into Order Upon Remand, and Settlement Agreement
PB-GA-0001-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/22/2000
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
show all people docs
Judges Barkett, Rosemary (Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS) show/hide docs
Shoob, Marvin Herman (N.D. Ga.) show/hide docs
PB-GA-0001-0001 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Caley, Steven (Georgia) show/hide docs
PB-GA-0001-0003 | PB-GA-0001-0007 | PB-GA-0001-0009 | PB-GA-0001-0010 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Jamieson, Susan (Georgia) show/hide docs
PB-GA-0001-0003 | PB-GA-0001-0005 | PB-GA-0001-0007 | PB-GA-0001-0009 | PB-GA-0001-0010 | PB-GA-0001-0012 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Roseborough, Teresa Wynn (Georgia) show/hide docs
Webster, David A. (Georgia) show/hide docs
PB-GA-0001-0005 | PB-GA-0001-0012 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Amideo, William F. (Georgia) show/hide docs
Baker, Thurbert E. (Georgia) show/hide docs
Bowers, Michael J. (Georgia) show/hide docs
PB-GA-0001-0008 | PB-GA-0001-0011 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Davis, Jefferson James (Georgia) show/hide docs
PB-GA-0001-0006 | PB-GA-0001-0012 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Dawning, Patricia (Georgia) show/hide docs
PB-GA-0001-0006 | PB-GA-0001-0008 | PB-GA-0001-0011 | PB-GA-0001-0012
Downing, Beverly P. (Georgia) show/hide docs
Jones, John Custer (Georgia) show/hide docs
PB-GA-0001-0006 | PB-GA-0001-0008 | PB-GA-0001-0011 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Joy, William C. (Georgia) show/hide docs
Pacious, Kathleen Mary (Georgia) show/hide docs
Shingler, George P. (Georgia) show/hide docs
PB-GA-0001-0008 | PB-GA-0001-0011 | PB-GA-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Frohboese, Robinsue (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Lee, Bill Lann (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Stout, Patricia Rebecca (Georgia) show/hide docs

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