On March 1, 1990, a class action lawsuit was filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Francisco, on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities and against the State of California, the Department of Developmental Services, the Department of Finance, the San Andreas Regional Center, the Golden Gate Regional Center, the Regional Center of the East Bay, and the North Bay Regional Center. The plaintiffs, represented by Protection and Advocacy, Inc., sought declaratory and injunctive relief and a writ of mandate, alleging violations of state statutes, particularly the Lanterman Act, and the California Constitution.
According to the Complaint, 2096 individuals with developmental disabilities were waiting for community referrals in California in November 1989. As a result of insufficient funding, there were neither enough community placements available nor sufficient staff to develop and administer the necessary individualized planning. As a result, members of the plaintiff class were forced to reside in institutions or with elderly parents. California placed persons with developmental disabilities at a heightened risk of physical injury and limited their interactions with non-disabled persons. The plaintiffs also claimed that the absence of individualized programming caused their independent living skills to deteriorate. For instance, one of the named plaintiffs lost the ability to use the toilet and was placed in diapers after he was unnecessarily institutionalized.
In 1993, the parties entered into a Settlement Agreement, which the court apparently approved. The purpose of the consent decree was to ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities would enjoy stable and high-quality community living arrangements. The terms of the settlement addressed everything from program funding and staff wages to specialized services for disabled persons with mental illness or a history of sex offense, and from individualized planning and assessment to increasing the availability of community placements.
On October 7, 1996, Protection & Advocacy issued their sixth report on the implementation of the settlement agreement. Although the lawsuit only named four regional centers as defendants, the State of California succeeded in having all seventeen Californian regional centers sign on to the agreement. The report detailed successes in the reduction of the institutionalized population, increase in community placement, improvements in services targeted at individual needs, the quality assurance program, emergency and crisis intervention, and overall quality of life. The report also raised some concerns, such as funding caps for supported living services, but noted grievance processes allowed consumers to appeal such decisions. Success seemed to be correlated with staff development and public education efforts.
On April 15, 1997, Protection & Advocacy issued their seventh report on implementation, in which they addressed a challenge to the settlement. Specifically, there had been a public call for a moratorium on deinstitutionalization, based on mortality studies. The report, generated by the plaintiffs' attorneys, argued that the quality of life enjoyed by persons placed in the community was empirically superior to that experienced in an institution. The report both celebrated the State's accomplishments and noted specifically what needed to be done in the areas of person centered planning, service coordination, community living options, affordable housing and property ownership, skill development, crisis and emergency services, quality assurance, and funding.
We do not have the docket for this lawsuit and the file contains no additional information. Elizabeth Chilcoat - 06/20/2006
Andrew Junker - 12/09/2014