Laguna Honda Lawsuit Settled
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 7, 2004
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--Disability rights advocates in California are claiming a victory after a federal judge approved the settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of present and potential residents of Laguna Honda Hospital.
Ten residents of Laguna Honda originally sued the city of San Francisco, which owns Laguna Honda, and several state agencies in July 2000, claiming the agencies violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the Nursing Home Reform Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, by not providing community-based services for those who want to live in their own homes instead of the huge nursing facility. The lawsuit cited the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision, which ruled that "unnecessarily" institutionalizing people with disabilities is a form of discrimination.
The settlement, approved last month, requires San Francisco to develop an assessment and discharge planning system which allows current residents, along with those eligible for admission, to have the option of receiving supports and services in the community.
According to a statement by the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), which co-counseled the suit, the city will start a Targeted Case Management Program to screen, assess, and develop individual service and discharge plans for class members, and provide ongoing case management. Staff and residents will receive training on community living alternatives. San Francisco will also open a Community Resource Center at the facility, and establish a Community Advisory Committee with participation from the Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco (ILRCSF).
"The settlement helps put an end to an evaluation process that steers too many people into nursing homes," said attorney Michael Stortz of California's Protection & Advocacy, Inc.
The plaintiffs in the case included Protection & Advocacy, Inc., Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc., and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.
In October of 2001 hundreds of disability rights activists gathered in San Francisco to protest the city and county's decision to rebuild Laguna Honda. The 135-year-old facility is the oldest nursing home in California and the largest in the United States with 1,200 beds.
Press release: "California Settlement Takes First Step Toward Olmstead Compliance" (Bazelon Center For Mental Health Law)
"Laguna Honda Hospital" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)