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Case Name Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program v. SafetyNet Youth, Inc. MH-AL-0002
Docket / Court 2:13-cv-00519-CG-B ( S.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Special Collection DOJ Civil Rights Division Statements of Interest
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On October 25, 2013, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) filed this lawsuit in the District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. The plaintiff, which served as Alabama’s designated protection and advocacy program for people with disabilities, sued SafetyNet ... read more >
On October 25, 2013, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) filed this lawsuit in the District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. The plaintiff, which served as Alabama’s designated protection and advocacy program for people with disabilities, sued SafetyNet Youthcare, Inc. (SafetyNet) under the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act of 1986 (PAIMI), the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (PADD Act), and the Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights Program of 1993 (PAIR). The plaintiff alleged that SafetyNet had failed to allow it, as Alabama’s Protection and Advocacy (P&A) provider, to monitor the defendant's facilities as required by law. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant had failed to grant ADAP access to facilities used for SafetyNet Academy, a program operated by the defendant for male youths with emotional or behavioral disabilities. The plaintiff claimed that, despite several attempts to explain to the staff at SafetyNet Academy why they were required by law to allow ADAP into all of the Academy's facilities for monitoring and investigation purposes, the defendant repeatedly refused to grant ADAP access to what it referred to as its Moderate Program. The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief and a preliminary injunction to compel the SafetyNet Academy to grant them reasonable access to the facilities.
On December 2, 2013 – the same day the defendant filed an answer denying that it was required to allow the plaintiff access to its Moderate Program – it also filed a third-party complaint against the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR). SafetyNet claimed that, because it had acted on the advice and counsel of DHR, which served as its licensing authority, any potential violations on its own part were caused by DHR. On this basis, it sought indemnification from DHR for any recovery that may be received by the plaintiff against SafetyNet.
Unable to agree on terms of a settlement, the parties proceeded with discovery. On September 19, 2014, all three parties moved for summary judgment. While the plaintiff held onto its position that it was allowed access to all of SafetyNet Academy’s programs, the defendants argued that because the individuals in the Moderate Program had moderate (rather than severe) mental illness, they were excluded from P&A protection. Shortly afterward, on October 14, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted a statement of interest supporting the plaintiff’s position that summary judgment against the defendants was appropriate. The DOJ asserted that the defendant’s facilities at SafetyNet Academy fell squarely within the parameters of PAIMI regulations and, as such, the plaintiff must be granted reasonable unrestricted access to all of the academy’s programs.
On December 12, 2014, Judge Callie V.S. Grande awarded summary judgment to the plaintiff, denying both defendants’ requests for summary judgment as well as SafetyNet’s request for indemnification and contribution against DHR. The judge found that, as a facility that provided residential treatment for individuals with mental illness and other disabilities, PAIMI, PADD, and PAIR applied to SafetyNet Academy. Rejecting defendants’ assertion that individuals with moderate mental illness may be excluded from P&A protection, she emphasized that the protections offered by these laws were intended to be broad in scope and did not define P&A access “one resident at a time.” Accordingly, Judge Grande held that ADAP was authorized to monitor all SafetyNet Academy programs and must be allowed reasonable access by law and awarded declaratory and permanent injunctive relief to the plaintiff. She also ordered ADAP and SafetyNet to meet and prepare a protocol for ADAP’s monitoring and investigation visits. Finally, the order denied SafetyNet’s request for indemnification against DHR and held that each party should bear its own attorneys’ fees and costs. 65 F.Supp.3d 1312.
The parties met and submitted access protocol on January 30, 2015. In addition to describing ADAP’s scope of access to SafetyNet and its records, the protocol outlined procedures ADAP may follow should SafetyNet deny or delay access to its facilities in the future.
Also following the grant of summary judgment, ADAP submitted a motion for reconsideration of the court’s denial of attorneys’ fees and costs. On February 11, 2015, Judge Grande issued an order awarding the plaintiff filing fees as the prevailing party. However, the order denied the plaintiff attorneys’ fees, citing a failure to raise an applicable exception to the American Rule stating that litigants are generally expected to bear their own attorneys’ fees and costs. 2015 WL 566946.

Lauren Latterell Powell - 10/15/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Disability
Mental impairment
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Fines/Fees
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental Disability
Depression
Developmental disability without intellectual disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Schizophrenia
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 15001 et seq.
Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Act, 42 U.S.C. § 10801
Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights (PAIR), 29 U.S.C. § 794e
Defendant(s) Alabama Department of Human Resources
SafetyNet YouthCare, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP), was Alabama's designated Protection and Advocacy provider.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Additional Resources
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  Pierce County v. Washington
www.bazelon.org
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Jane Doe v. Hunter College
http://www.bazelon.org/jane-doe-v-hunter-college/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Office of Protection and Advocacy v. State of Conneticut
http://www.bazelon.org/opa-v-ct/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  From Hospitals to Prisons: A New Explanation
http://cornelllawreview.org/clronline/from-hospitals-to-prisons-a-new-explanation
Date: 2017
By: Fredrick E. Vars & Shelby B. Calambokidis (Cornell Law Review)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:13-cv-519 (S.D. Ala.)
MH-AL-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/18/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive and Declarative Relief [ECF# 1]
MH-AL-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/25/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Party Complaint [ECF# 8]
MH-AL-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/02/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Department of Justice Statement of Interest [ECF# 74]
MH-AL-0002-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 10/14/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Order [ECF# 78] (65 F.Supp.3d 1312) (S.D. Ala.)
MH-AL-0002-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/12/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Declaratory Judgment [ECF# 79] (2014 WL 7146444) (S.D. Ala.)
MH-AL-0002-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/15/2014
Source: Westlaw
Notice of Filing Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) Monitoring, Visitation and Record Access Procedures for SafetyNet YouthCare, Inc Facilities [ECF# 88]
MH-AL-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/30/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Opinion [ECF# 89] (2015 WL 566946) (S.D. Ala.)
MH-AL-0002-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/11/2015
Source: Westlaw
Judges Bivins, Sonja Faye (S.D. Ala.) [Magistrate]
MH-AL-0002-9000
Granade, Callie V. (S.D. Ala.)
MH-AL-0002-0002 | MH-AL-0002-0004 | MH-AL-0002-0005 | MH-AL-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anderson, Nancy Ellen (Alabama)
MH-AL-0002-9000
Bohan, Mary (District of Columbia)
MH-AL-0002-0001
Coe, Cynthia (District of Columbia)
MH-AL-0002-0001
Hill, Eve L. (District of Columbia)
MH-AL-0002-0001
Mixson, Andrea Jane (Alabama)
MH-AL-0002-0007 | MH-AL-0002-9000
Moran, Molly J. (District of Columbia)
MH-AL-0002-0001
Slawkowski, David J. (Alabama)
MH-AL-0002-0003 | MH-AL-0002-0007 | MH-AL-0002-9000
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
MH-AL-0002-0001
Van Der Pol, William Jr. (Indiana)
MH-AL-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Brooks, Felicia Marshea (Alabama)
MH-AL-0002-9000
McCloud, Stewart W. (Alabama)
MH-AL-0002-0007 | MH-AL-0002-9000
Thompson, Martha Leach (Alabama)
MH-AL-0002-0006 | MH-AL-0002-0007 | MH-AL-0002-9000
Other Lawyers Wiseman, Holly Lee (District of Columbia)
MH-AL-0002-9000

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