Case: U.S. v. Georgia

1:10-cv-00249 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

Filed Date: Jan. 28, 2010

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In 2008 and 2009, the United States Department of Justice investigated Georgia’s seven state-operated psychiatric hospitals. The investigations found that the hospitals were violating patients’ constitutional and statutory rights in multiple ways, such as by: failing to adequately protect patients from harm; improperly utilizing seclusion and restraints; providing inadequate nursing and health care; failing to provide adequate services for populations with specialized needs; and failing to disc…

In 2008 and 2009, the United States Department of Justice investigated Georgia’s seven state-operated psychiatric hospitals. The investigations found that the hospitals were violating patients’ constitutional and statutory rights in multiple ways, such as by:

  • failing to adequately protect patients from harm;
  • improperly utilizing seclusion and restraints;
  • providing inadequate nursing and health care;
  • failing to provide adequate services for populations with specialized needs; and
  • failing to discharge patients to placement “in the most integrated setting” as required by the Supreme Court in L.C. v. Olmsted.
As a result of these investigations, the DOJ filed a federal lawsuit under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act on January 15, 2009. That lawsuit was filed together with a proposed settlement agreement.

A year later, the settlement agreement in that case was still awaiting final court approval, and the DOJ was concerned that Georgia continued to provide deficient services, exposing patients to serious harm. The DOJ filed this lawsuit seeking injunctive relief on January 28, 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, on the same day that it filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in the other lawsuit. This case was assigned to Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr., who was also presiding over the other lawsuit. In this lawsuit, the DOJ alleged that Georgia was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by unnecessarily institutionalizing people with disabilities. Georgia’s system had previously been the subject of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case (L.C. v. Olmsted), but ten years after Olmsted, Georgia had still failed to adequately implement policies to prevent unnecessary institutionalization.

The DOJ moved to consolidate this ADA-focused case with the 2009 CRIPA-focused case.

The parties initially engaged in settlement negotiations, but those negotiations failed, and Georgia moved to dismiss the suit on July 1, 2010. On August 9, the court denied the motion, and ordered the parties to proceed to discovery. Negotiations resumed and the parties agreed to a settlement, which was approved by the court on October 29, 2010. (In the meantime, the court had denied the DOJ’s motion to consolidate the cases, and had given final approval to the settlement agreement in the 2009 case.)

The October 2010 settlement provided for an increase in community-based services over a five-year period. Specifically, the state would:

  1. discontinue admissions to state institutions for certain categories of patients, and instead provide community-based treatment services;
  2. increase crisis support services and create new options for community living;
  3. create new Medicaid waiver enrollment slots for individuals with developmental disabilities;
  4. increase home-based services for individuals participating in the waiver program;
  5. provide additional services to keep individuals with mental illness from being institutionalized;
  6. increase assertive community treatment, crisis management, and other services in the community; and
  7. provide for housing options and support services to allow individuals with mental illness to remain in the community.
The parties agreed to the appointment of an independent reviewer. Her first annual report, issued in October 2011, documented substantial progress by the state.

On August 29, 2012, the court approved a modification of the settlement agreement, which was focused on implementing assertive community treatment.

The independent reviewer’s reports continued to note Georgia’s considerable efforts in attempting to reach the standards set out in the settlement agreement (including the closure of two of the seven state hospitals), but on September 18, 2015, reported that not all of the goals set by the settlement agreement had been met by the five-year deadline. Georgia had done an acceptable job of providing resources for the deinstitutionalization of adults with persistent serious mental illness, but had not complied with the standards for persons with developmental disabilities. The independent reviewer did note that there were acceptable plans on the horizon that had not yet been implemented, and that delays in implementation were not necessarily because of idleness on the part of the state.

In January 2016, however, the DOJ moved to hold the state in contempt for its failure to comply with the settlement agreement. This motion was eventually dismissed as moot: the DOJ and the state filed a joint motion for extension of the settlement agreement. They sought to have the court maintain jurisdiction while the state worked toward a June 30, 2018 compliance deadline. The court approved this settlement extension on May 27, 2016. The extension was supported by a coalition of community stakeholders, including the Carter Center Mental Health Program, Mental Health America of Georgia, Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, Georgia Parent Support Network, Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s Disability Integration Project, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness–Georgia.

Georgia did not achieve full compliance by the June 2018 deadline; however, the independent reviewer found that the state had continued to make progress. As of August 2020, the court maintains jurisdiction, and the independent reviewer continues to monitor the state’s progress.

Summary Authors

Beth Kurtz (11/20/2012)

Megan Brown (11/6/2016)

Lauren Latterell Powell (10/21/2017)

Michael Beech (4/1/2019)

Gregory Marsh (8/26/2020)

Related Cases

U.S. v. State of Georgia, Northern District of Georgia (2009)

People


Judge(s)

Pannell, Charles A. Jr. (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Aminfar, Amin (District of Columbia)

Bagenstos, Samuel R. (District of Columbia)

Bailey, Regan (Washington)

Becker, Grace Chung (District of Columbia)

Bohan, Mary (District of Columbia)

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Deutsch, David (District of Columbia)

Farano, Richard J. (District of Columbia)

Fleisher, Aaron S (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Pannell, Charles A. Jr. (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Aminfar, Amin (District of Columbia)

Bagenstos, Samuel R. (District of Columbia)

Bailey, Regan (Washington)

Becker, Grace Chung (District of Columbia)

Bohan, Mary (District of Columbia)

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Deutsch, David (District of Columbia)

Farano, Richard J. (District of Columbia)

Fleisher, Aaron S (District of Columbia)

Frohboese, Robinsue (District of Columbia)

Gunston, Emily A. (District of Columbia)

Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)

Hill, Eve L. (District of Columbia)

Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Horn, John A. (Georgia)

Houston, Katherine (District of Columbia)

Hughes, Aileen Bell (Georgia)

Koch, Robert A. (District of Columbia)

Lapertosa, Max (Pennsylvania)

McDonald, Ashley (District of Columbia)

Mondino, Jennifer L. (District of Columbia)

Morse, Thomas Jackson (District of Columbia)

Murray, Jeffrey Robert (District of Columbia)

Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)

Polansky, Jessica (District of Columbia)

Preston, Judith (Judy) C. (District of Columbia)

Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)

Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia)

Yates, Sally Quillian (Georgia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Baker, Thurbert E. (Georgia)

Belinfante, Joshua Barrett (Georgia)

Burnette, Jeremy Patrick (Georgia)

Cicero, Mark J. (Georgia)

Cohen, Mark Howard (Georgia)

Dalton, Jennifer (Georgia)

Dunn, Dennis R. (Georgia)

Hewitson, Steven J. (Georgia)

Littlefield, Jeremy U. (Georgia)

Mann, Lindsey B. (Georgia)

Meeks, Kevin Gregory (Georgia)

Mygatt, Timothy D (District of Columbia)

Naunas, Jason S. (Georgia)

Nelson, Shalen S. (Georgia)

Olens, Samuel (Georgia)

Phillips, John Nicholas (Georgia)

Smith, Lynette Eaddy (Georgia)

Theriot, Jamie L. (Georgia)

Other Attorney(s)

Barkoff, Alison (District of Columbia)

Bossing, Lewis (District of Columbia)

Burnim, Ira Abraham (District of Columbia)

Canfield, Kenneth S. (Georgia)

Kegley, Julie Coleman (Georgia)

Norris, Joshua A. (Georgia)

Orland, Devon (Georgia)

Rhee, Mina (Georgia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Jones, Elizabeth (California)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket (PACER)

March 21, 2019 Docket

Re: CRIPA Investigation of the Georgia Regional Hospital in Atlanta

CRIPA Investigation of the Georgia Regional Hospital

No Court

May 30, 2008 Findings Letter/Report

Re: CRIPA Investigation of the Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital in Rome

CRIPA Investigation of the Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital

No Court

Jan. 15, 2009 Findings Letter/Report

Settlement Agreement

CRIPA Investigation of the Georgia Regional Hospital

No Court

Jan. 18, 2009 Settlement Agreement
26

Joint Status Report

United States of America v. Georgia

June 12, 2009 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Joint Status Report of the United States and Amici Cuirae

United States of America v. Georgia

Sept. 30, 2009 Pleading / Motion / Brief
29

Order

United States of America v. Georgia

Sept. 30, 2009 Order/Opinion

Re: Investigation of the State Psychiatric Hospitals

No Court

Dec. 8, 2009 Findings Letter/Report
1

Complaint

United States v. Georgia

Jan. 28, 2010 Complaint
28-1

Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint

July 1, 2010 Pleading / Motion / Brief

Resources

Title Description External URL

United States v. State of Georgia

Eric S. Dreiband

The United States brought two separate cases against the State of Georgia involving its public services for people with mental health or development disabilities. Each lawsuit was resolved through se… July 15, 2016 https://www.justice.gov/crt/case/united-states-v-state-georgia

U.S. v. Georgia

The Bazelon Center

On May 18, 2016, the State of Georgia and the United States Department of Justice filed in federal district court an agreement to expand the capacity and improve the quality of community-based servic… Jan. 1, 2017 http://www.bazelon.org/u-s-v-georgia/

ADA Settlement Agreement

Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

On June 29, 2018, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a joint status report in the U.S. District Court fo… Feb. 3, 2020 https://dbhdd.georgia.gov/organization/be-informed/reports-performance/ada-settlement-agreement

Lessons Learned from Georgia’s 2010 Olmstead Settlement: The Good, the Bad, and the Limitations of a Justice Department Olmstead Settlement

Talley Wells

We were crushed. <br><br />It was Thursday, January 15, 2009, the day Captain Sully piloted his aircraft onto the Hudson River.<br/><br>It was five days before President George W. Bush left office. A… https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/01947648.2020.1731334

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Georgia

Case Type(s):

Public Benefits/Government Services

Special Collection(s):

Olmstead Cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: Jan. 28, 2010

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The United States filed this suit on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness in Georgia’s state institutions.

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

State of Georgia, State

Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities , State

Georgia Department of Community Health , State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Hospital/Health Department

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 2010 - 2019

Content of Injunction:

Reasonable Accommodation

Discrimination Prohibition

Reporting

Monitor/Master

Monitoring

Training

Preliminary relief request withdrawn/mooted

Issues

General:

Deinstitutionalization/decarceration

Discharge & termination plans

Habilitation (training/treatment)

Individualized planning

Payment for care

Placement in mental health facilities

Public assistance grants

Reasonable Accommodations

Discrimination-basis:

Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)

Disability:

disability, unspecified

Integrated setting

Least restrictive environment

Mental impairment

Mental Disability:

Developmental disability without intellectual disability

Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified

Mental Illness, Unspecified

Medical/Mental Health:

Intellectual/Developmental Disability

Intellectual disability/mental illness dual diagnosis

Medication, administration of

Mental health care, general

Mental health care, unspecified

Type of Facility:

Government-run

Benefit Source:

Medicaid