Case: Thomas v. Kent

2:14-cv-08013 | U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

Filed Date: Oct. 16, 2014

Closed Date: Nov. 22, 2019

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On October 16, 2014, three individuals with significant physical disabilities requiring substantial medical care filed this lawsuit against the California Department of Health Care Services (“DHCS”) in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs alleged that the state had violated Section II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which require public entities to provide services to persons with disabilities in…

On October 16, 2014, three individuals with significant physical disabilities requiring substantial medical care filed this lawsuit against the California Department of Health Care Services (“DHCS”) in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs alleged that the state had violated Section II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which require public entities to provide services to persons with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs and to prevent unnecessary institutionalization. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, including a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction preventing DHCS from reducing at-home medical care and support for the plaintiffs, and a permanent injunction preventing unnecessary institutionalization in the future. They also sought attorney’s fees. The plaintiffs were represented by Disability Rights California.

At the time, the plaintiffs, who were once institutionalized because of their disabilities, were living in their own homes where they received Medicaid-funded nursing and attendant care through the California Medi-Cal Home and Community Based Nursing Facility/Acute Hospital Waiver Program (“Waiver Program”). They alleged that they were at risk of institutionalization because DHCS maintained unnecessarily low cost limits for these services.

On January 29, 2015, the plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint. The amended complaint added an organizational plaintiff, In Spirit, a non-profit organization that provided financial assistance to persons with disabilities to receive medical care in their home.

On July 7, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint. This complaint added a new named plaintiff, dismissed one of the existing named plaintiffs, elaborated on the factual allegations, and added a third claim for violations of California state law. On September 23, 2015, In Spirit was voluntarily dismissed as a party in the lawsuit.

On January 26, 2016, the parties held a mediation session but were unable to reach an agreement. Throughout the mediation, the parties continued to engage in discovery. On March 8, 2016, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. On March 10, 2016, the plaintiffs moved for summary judgement. District Judge Fernando Olguin denied both motions on April 27, 2016. He further set out deadlines for continued discovery.

On March 29, 2016, the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division ("DOJ") filed a statement of interest to clarify the defendant’s obligations under the ADA. The DOJ explained that the ADA prohibits unjustified institutionalization and requires individuals with disabilities receive support and services in the most integrated setting as mandated in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999). The DOJ also clarified that the defendants could not administer the Medicaid waiver without accounting for individual needs and that the integration mandate protects individuals at serious risk of institutionalization. The DOJ filed subsequent statements of interest on August 4, 2016 and September 16, 2016, which further clarified the states’ ADA obligations in light of DHCS’s arguments against the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgement.

On July 18, 2016, the plaintiffs again moved for summary judgement, which Judge Olguin denied on August 4, 2016 due to continued factual disputes. Judge Olguin also noted being “deeply troubled” by the defendants’ repeated failure to comply in good faith with discovery requests and threatened to impose sanctions.

On September 7, 2016, the plaintiffs again filed a motion for summary judgement. On June 5, 2017, the Court denied that motion, finding that genuine issues of material fact remained regarding whether or not the California waiver program’s cost limits created a serious risk of institutionalization and whether California had an existing deinstitutionalization scheme in place that was effective. 385 F. Supp. 3d 1048.

The parties continued with discovery, and it appears they continued engaging in settlement talks as well. On March 14, 2018, the plaintiffs moved to voluntarily dismiss their case without prejudice, and on March 19, 2018, the court granted this motion for voluntary dismissal of most of the case. There was some continued litigation over whether the plaintiffs were entitled to costs and attorneys’ fees.

The dismissal seems to come from the fact that DHCS eventually changed the waiver application process so that decisions would be based on medical necessity without any mention of cost limits. In their motion opposing attorneys’ fees, the defendants asserted that this made the plaintiffs' claims moot, and that there was no basis for awarding attorneys’ fees or costs. The plaintiffs argued that the overall course of events demonstrated that this litigation was a significant factor prompting defendants to eliminate waiver cost limits, which created a presumption that plaintiffs were a catalyst and, because defendants could not rebut that presumption, plaintiffs were entitled to attorneys fees’ and costs under a state statute.

On May 30, 2019, Judge Olguin granted the plaintiffs’ motion for attorneys fees. The court found that the litigation led to the elimination of DHCS’s cost limits, conferring a significant benefit for potentially thousands of people. The elimination of cost limits would ensure that participants would not have to resort to litigation to secure needed services and that they would be able to remain in their homes and avoid segregation and isolation. The court ordered the plaintiffs to file their motion for attorneys’ fees and costs no later than July 31, 2019. 2019 WL 2590170.

After a brief delay, the parties agreed on how much the defendants should pay in attorneys’ fees. They notified the court that they had resolved all outstanding issues in this case on November 22, 2019. The notification did not state the size of the award, so the Clearinghouse is unaware of the amount. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Sean Mulloy (10/16/2017)

Chris Pollack (8/12/2020)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5907652/parties/jerry-thomas-v-toby-douglas/


Judge(s)

Olguin, Fernando Manzano (California)

Rosenberg, Alicia G. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Coelho, Monisha Ann (California)

Decker, Eileen (California)

Gershon, Elissa Staci (California)

Gettleman, Deborah D. (California)

Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)

Hadreas, Anne (California)

Havens, Betsy Ellen (California)

Hill, Eve L. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Olguin, Fernando Manzano (California)

Rosenberg, Alicia G. (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Coelho, Monisha Ann (California)

Decker, Eileen (California)

Gershon, Elissa Staci (California)

Gettleman, Deborah D. (California)

Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)

Hadreas, Anne (California)

Havens, Betsy Ellen (California)

Hill, Eve L. (District of Columbia)

Himmelrich, Sue L. (California)

Holle, Marilyn (California)

Hull, Joanna (District of Columbia)

Iriarte, Maria F. (California)

Monteleone, Robyn-Marie L (California)

Newman, Robert D. Jr. (California)

Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)

Schouten, Dorothy A. (California)

Tawatao, Rau Mona (California)

Tayloe, Benjamin O. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Guitar, Michael Thomas (California)

Kim, Jennifer M. (California)

Wang, Kenneth Kai-Chun (California)

Other Attorney(s)

Schutzer, Mathew S. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2:14-cv-08013

Docket [PACER]

Kent v. Thomas

Nov. 22, 2019

Nov. 22, 2019

Docket
4

2:14-cv-08013

Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief

Oct. 23, 2014

Oct. 23, 2014

Complaint
26

2:14-cv-08013

First Amended Complaint For Injunctive and Declaratory Relief

Jan. 29, 2015

Jan. 29, 2015

Complaint
70

2:14-cv-08013

Second Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief

July 7, 2015

July 7, 2015

Complaint
112

2:14-cv-08013

Statement of Interest of The United States of America

March 29, 2016

March 29, 2016

Pleading / Motion / Brief
171

2:14-cv-08013

Supplemental Statement of Interest of the United States of America

Aug. 4, 2016

Aug. 4, 2016

Pleading / Motion / Brief
198

2:14-cv-08013

Second Supplemental Statement of Interest of The United States of America

Sept. 16, 2016

Sept. 16, 2016

Pleading / Motion / Brief
322

2:14-cv-08013

Order re: Plaintiffs' Motion For Summary Judgment

385 F.Supp.3d 1048

June 5, 2017

June 5, 2017

Order/Opinion
368

2:14-cv-08013

Order Re: Pending Motions

2019 WL 2590170

May 30, 2019

May 30, 2019

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5907652/jerry-thomas-v-toby-douglas/

Last updated May 29, 2022, 3:08 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
50

ORDER RE: DISCOVERY OF ELECTRONICALLY STORED INFORMATION by Magistrate Judge Alicia G. Rosenberg re Stipulation for Order 49 . IT IS ORDERED that the forgoing Agreement is approved. (See Order for details.) (mp)

May 5, 2015

May 5, 2015

RECAP
89

PROTECTIVE ORDER CONCERNING DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION FOR NAMED PLAINTIFFS by Magistrate Judge Alicia G. Rosenberg re Stipulation for Protective Order 88 . Following stipulation between counsel of record for the parties that good cause exists for a protective order, pursuant to 45 C.F.R. Section 164.512 and Local Rule 7-1; and good cause having been shown; IT SO ORDERED with the changes made by the court on the attached order. ***** SEE CHANGES MADE BY THE COURT. **** (mp)

Sept. 25, 2015

Sept. 25, 2015

RECAP
358

ORDER DISMISSING CASE by Judge Fernando M. Olguin: Pursuant to plaintiffs' Notice of Request for Voluntary Dismissal Without Prejudice 352 , the court dismisses all claims, without prejudice. *See Order for details.* (Case Terminated. Made JS-6.) (cw)

March 19, 2018

March 19, 2018

RECAP
368

Attorney Fees

May 30, 2019

May 30, 2019

PACER
370

Order

July 15, 2019

July 15, 2019

PACER
372

Order

July 26, 2019

July 26, 2019

PACER

Case Details

State / Territory: California

Case Type(s):

Public Benefits/Government Services

Special Collection(s):

DOJ Civil Rights Division Statements of Interest

Olmstead Cases

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 16, 2014

Closing Date: Nov. 22, 2019

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Individuals with significant physical disabilities who received Medicaid-funded care and medical treatment at home for serious health conditions.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

State of California Department of Health Care Services (Los Angeles), State

Defendant Type(s):

Hospital/Health Department

Case Details

Causes of Action:

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

Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701

State law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Attorneys fees

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Voluntary Dismissal

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief request withdrawn/mooted

Issues

General:

Deinstitutionalization/decarceration

Funding

Government Services

Payment for care

Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)

Reasonable Accommodations

Reassessment and care planning

Rehabilitation

Discrimination-basis:

Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)

Disability:

disability, unspecified

Integrated setting

Benefit Source:

Medicaid