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Case Name M.J. v. District of Columbia DR-DC-0007
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-01901-EGS ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization Bazelon Center
National Center for Youth Law
Case Summary
On August 14, 2018, two children with mental health disabilities and University Legal Services, Inc. filed this lawsuit on behalf of themselves and a class of children with mental health disabilities in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued the District ... read more >
On August 14, 2018, two children with mental health disabilities and University Legal Services, Inc. filed this lawsuit on behalf of themselves and a class of children with mental health disabilities in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued the District of Columbia under:
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.;
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794;
  • The Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights program, 29 U.S.C. § 794;
  • Title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid Act), 42 U.S.C. § 1396; and
  • 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The plaintiffs, represented by the National Center for Youth Law, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, in-house counsel, and private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief together with costs and attorney’s fees. The plaintiffs claimed that the District of Columbia failed to comply with mandates of the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Medicaid Act. Specifically, they claimed that the District of Columbia failed to provide medically necessary intensive community-based services (ICBS) to children with mental health disabilities.

Intensive community-based services consist of three components:
  1. Intensive care coordination (ICC): designing and supervising a plan to provide and coordinate services to children that includes the child, the child’s family, and service providers;
  2. Intensive behavior support services: individual therapy provided to the child where they live; and
  3. Mobile crisis services: crisis response services that can provide care in a child’s home, school, or community.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs acknowledged that the District of Columbia provides some components of ICBS. For example, the District offers the “high fidelity wraparound” ICC program, “community-based intervention” services, and the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) intensive support program. But the plaintiffs alleged that the District’s existing services “fail[] to provide medically necessary ICBS” for many children who need them.

The complaint did not name the putative class representatives. Instead, the plaintiffs moved that the minor plaintiffs be allowed to proceed anonymously. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell granted this motion on August 14, 2018. Judge Howell determined that the plaintiffs have a “strong interest” in protecting “highly sensitive details” about their mental health that would be revealed in the litigation that outweighs the government defendants’ “minimal” interest in disclosure.

The District moved to dismiss the case on October 3. First, it argued that the two individual plaintiffs lack standing. The District claimed that the first individual plaintiff refused to use the District’s existing wraparound services, that the second would not be eligible for ICBS because she is in the custody of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, and that the complaint does not allege sufficient facts to support a claim by University Legal Services alone. Second, it argued that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act because the plaintiffs’ allegations involve the adequacy of care rather than where the District provides services. Finally, the District argued that the plaintiffs’ allegations that it violated Medicaid requirements were “threadbare . . . conclusory statements” that could not support a claim under Iqbal.

As of June 2019, the parties are engaging in a contentious discovery process, and the plaintiffs continue to seek class certification. The case is ongoing.

Timothy Leake - 06/01/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
Medicaid
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Disability
Integrated setting
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Government Services (specify)
Juveniles
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Rehabilitation
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Mental health care, general
Mental Disability
Depression
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights (PAIR), 29 U.S.C. § 794e
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Medicaid, 42 U.S.C §1396 (Title XIX of the Social Security Act)
Defendant(s) District of Columbia
District of Columbia Department of Behavioral Health
District of Columbia Department of Health Care Finance
Plaintiff Description Two children with mental health disabilities in the District of Columbia and University Legal Services, Inc.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Bazelon Center
National Center for Youth Law
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  M.J. v. District of Columbia
http://www.bazelon.org/mj-v-district-of-columbia
Date: August 2018
(Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:18-cv-01901 (D.D.C.)
DR-DC-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 2] (D.D.C.)
DR-DC-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Complaint [ECF# 3]
DR-DC-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Howell, Beryl Alaine (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-0002
Sullivan, Emmet G. (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abrokwa, Alice (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-0001 | DR-DC-0007-9000
Bernstein, Sandra J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-0001 | DR-DC-0007-9000
Bossing, Lewis (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-0001 | DR-DC-0007-9000
Burnim, Ira Abraham (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-0001 | DR-DC-0007-9000
Clark, Mary Nell McGarity (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-0001 | DR-DC-0007-9000
Den Houter, Jessica Vander Kooi (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-9000
Galanter, Seth Michael (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-0001 | DR-DC-0007-9000
Mitchell, Jason Thomas (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-0001 | DR-DC-0007-9000
Murphy, Mark J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-0001 | DR-DC-0007-9000
Nugent, Francis J (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-9000
Schiffman, Howard (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-0001 | DR-DC-0007-9000
Siegfried, Jeremy Bachrach (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cumming, Gregory Martin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-9000
Kelley, Mateya (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-9000
Montee, Amanda (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-DC-0007-9000

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