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Case Name Seth v. District of Columbia DR-DC-0006
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-01034 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Case Summary
On May 1, 2018, a D.C. resident with intellectual disabilities civilly committed in a North Carolina federal prison filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff sued the District of Columbia, the D.C. Department of Disability Services (DDS), and the ... read more >
On May 1, 2018, a D.C. resident with intellectual disabilities civilly committed in a North Carolina federal prison filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff sued the District of Columbia, the D.C. Department of Disability Services (DDS), and the director of DDS in his official capacity. The complaint alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and D.C. laws, including the D.C. Human Rights Act (DCHRA) and the Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities Act (CIDA). The plaintiff was represented by American University, Washington College of Law, Disability Rights Law Clinic, the Arc of the United States, and private counsel. He sought declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs. This case was assigned to Chief Judge Beryl Howell.

The plaintiff alleged that D.C. law entitled him to treatment for his intellectual and developmental disabilities in the D.C. area. Specifically, he claimed that after being arrested and found incompetent prior to standing trial, DDS should have begun civil commitment proceedings in the D.C. Superior Court. This would have allowed him to receive treatment close to his family in D.C. Instead, the plaintiff was placed in a federal prison in North Carolina and a separate petition for federal civil commitment had been filed. The plaintiff claimed that this could lead to his indefinite incarceration in the federal prison system, which would prolong separation from his family.

The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on June 14, 2018 for failure to state a claim. They alleged that the plaintiff was not a qualified individual under the ADA, that he had not allege discrimination on the basis of his disability, and that CIDA did not create a private right of action.

On September 28, 2018, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint. The court held that under the ADA, the plaintiff failed to show that defendants discriminated against him because of his disability. The court found that the defendants’ decision not to petition the court for him to remain in D.C. was not apparently on the basis of his disability. And, the plaintiff failed to prove that D.C was required to begin commitment proceedings in every case regarding civil commitment for a D.C. resident. Instead, the court held that CIDA provides D.C. with discretion in beginning commitment proceedings. 2018 WL 4682023.

In response, the plaintiff filed a motion on October 26, 2018 to alter the judgment to be without prejudice and to permit him to amend the complaint. On May 8, 2019, the court denied the motion to alter the judgment and amend the complaint. The court again focused on how the defendants’ decision not to petition the court for him to remain in D.C. was not based on his disability. The court noted this could not be cured by additional facts and that the new factual alleged by the plaintiff were available prior to the entry of judgment.

The plaintiff then appealed both the dismissal of the claim and the denial of his motion to alter the judgment to the D.C. Circuit on June 7, 2019 (docket number 19-7057). The parties and amicus for the plaintiff have filed numerous briefs on the appeal. Oral argument was scheduled for April 2, 2020. As of January 2020, the appeal remained pending and the case was ongoing.

Hannah Greenhouse - 10/10/2018
Margaret Vogel - 02/05/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
Integrated setting
Least restrictive environment
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Commitment procedure
Extradition
Placement in detention facilities
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Mental health care, general
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
State law
Defendant(s) D.C. Department of Disability Services
District of Columbia
Plaintiff Description A D.C. resident with intellectual disabilities civilly committed in a federal prison
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 05/01/2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Seth v. District of Columbia
The Arc
Date: Jul. 24, 2019
By: The Arc
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:18-cv-1034 (D.D.C.)
DR-DC-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/17/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
DR-DC-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation [ECF# 1-1]
DR-DC-0006-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 28] (2018 WL 4682023) (D.D.C.)
DR-DC-0006-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/28/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 29-1]
DR-DC-0006-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/26/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 36] (2019 WL 2058670) (D.D.C.)
DR-DC-0006-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/08/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief for Appellant Markelle Seth [Ct. of App. ECF# 1820624]
DR-DC-0006-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/17/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief Of Disability Services Experts As Amici Curiae In Support Of Appellant Markelle Seth And Reversal [Ct. of App. ECF# 1820776]
DR-DC-0006-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/18/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief Of Disability Rights DC/University Legal Services, Quality Trust, And Washington Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights And Urban Affairs As Amici Curiae In Support Of Appellant And Reversal [Ct. of App. ECF# 1820803]
DR-DC-0006-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/19/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief Of Former Corrections Directors As Amici Curiae In Support Of Plaintiff-Appellant And Reversal [Ct. of App. ECF# 1821519]
DR-DC-0006-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/24/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Corrected Brief Of Amici Curiae Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Center For Public Representation, Civil Rights Education And Enforcement Center, Disability Rights Advocates, Disability Rights Education And Defense Fund, And Judge David L. Bazelon Cen [Ct. of App. ECF# 1821837]
DR-DC-0006-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/27/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Harvey, G. Michael (D.D.C.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0002
Howell, Beryl Alaine (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0003 | DR-DC-0006-0005 | DR-DC-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Becker, Daniel W.J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0001 | DR-DC-0006-0004 | DR-DC-0006-9000
DiBianco, Gary (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0001 | DR-DC-0006-0004 | DR-DC-0006-0006 | DR-DC-0006-9000
Dinerstein, Robert D. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0001 | DR-DC-0006-0004 | DR-DC-0006-0006 | DR-DC-0006-9000
Hill, Eve Lynne (Maryland) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0001 | DR-DC-0006-0004 | DR-DC-0006-0006 | DR-DC-0006-9000
Murday, Rebecca Mei (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0001 | DR-DC-0006-0004 | DR-DC-0006-0006 | DR-DC-0006-9000
Salzman, Donald Paul (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0001 | DR-DC-0006-0004 | DR-DC-0006-0006 | DR-DC-0006-9000
Wakschlag, Shira T. (California) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0001 | DR-DC-0006-0004 | DR-DC-0006-0006 | DR-DC-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Blecher, Matthew Robert (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-9000
Montee, Amanda (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-9000
Other Lawyers Bernstein, Sandra J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0007
Godfrey, Nicole Brianne (Colorado) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0009
Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0009
Grunfeld, Gay Crosthwait (California) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0010
Janssen, Kara J. (California) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0010
Reiser, David A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0007
Robertson, Amy Farr (Colorado) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0010
Rosen, Sanford Jay (California) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0010
Rovner, Laura Lee (Colorado) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0009
Wolfman, Brian (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0006-0008

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