On December 22, 1995, People First of Tennessee filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee against the State of Tennessee on behalf of residents of the Clover Bottom Developmental Center, Greene Valley Developmental Center, and Winston Developmental Center. The plaintiffs were represented by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and private attorneys. The complaint alleged that a Department of Justice CRIPA investigation of the facilities in 1994 found a pattern of injury, abuse, and neglect, deficient medical care, a lack of activities, and a failure to provide educations to school-age children as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. It also alleged the use of unnecessary restraints, inadequate discharge planning, and failure to provide habilitation and training.
On November 15, 1996, the United States Department of Justice also filed a lawsuit in the Middle District of Tennessee against the state, alleging similar violations. That case was styled U.S. v. Tennessee Civ. No. 96-cv-01056 (M.D.Tenn.) ("United States case") (See ID-TN-4).
On December 2, 1996, the district court (Judge Robert L. Echnols) granted a motion to consolidate the People First case with the United States case.
People First, the Department of Justice, and the State of Tennessee entered into a settlement agreement, which was approved by Judge Echnols on November 27, 1996. According to the settlement, the state agreed to a number of changes, including the following:
• Create person-centered evaluation of citizens in need of services
• Develop community programs and resources
• Increase staffing and staff training
• Improve living conditions in the centers
• Provide education for school-age residents
On the same date, the court granted plaintiff People First of Tennessee's motion to amend their complaint.
According to the PACER docket, litigation continued after the settlement regarding defendants' compliance with the settlement agreement, the Parent-Guardian Association's intervention in the action, and attorneys' fees.
Community Rehabilitation Agencies of Tennessee (CMRA), an association of agencies providing services to individuals with intellectual disabilities, moved to intervene in both of the lawsuits. The court (Judge Jon McCallas) denied the motions for each case. On August 8, 2001, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (District Judge John Feikens, Eastern District of Michigan, sitting by designation) affirmed the denials. U.S. v. Tennessee, 260 F.3d 587 (6th Cir. 2001).
The PACER docket provides no case information after 2001.Angela Heverling - 04/01/2007