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DOJ Sues Florida Over Children with Disabilities in Nursing Homes

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DOJ Sues Florida Over Children with Disabilities in Nursing Homes

August 7, 2013

On July 22, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida alleging the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ACA) by failing to provide services and supports to children with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. This is the latest action taken by the DOJ in this matter. Previously, in June 2012 and April 2013, the DOJ filed Statements of Interest in the private litigation T.H. v. Dudek, No. 12-cv-60460 (S.D. Fla. 2012), which alleged that the Plaintiff in the case was placed in an institutional setting by the state inappropriately and in violation of the Olmstead mandate. (The 1999 Supreme Court case Olmstead v. L.C. held that individuals with disabilities must be served in the most integrated, least restrictive settings appropriate.)

The Complaint filed by the DOJ noted the department conducted an investigation and provided notice to the state that it was in violation of the ADA based on the "unjustified segregation of Institutionalized children." Though the state made some policy changes to reduce segregation of children with significant medical needs, the complaint said the ADA violations remain ongoing, with nearly two hundred children still unnecessarily segregated in nursing facilities. It said the state's transition planning processes are not sufficient and barriers to community placement persist. After engaging in what it called "good faith negotiations" with Florida, the DOJ was unable to resolve the violations it had identified, prompting it to file suit. 

More information on current Olmstead cases, including links to documents in this case, may be found here.