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Weil, Disability Rights Texas and the Center for Public Representation Secure Interim Class Action Settlement that Will Improve Living Conditions for Thousands of Texas Nursing Facility Residents

A Weil pro bono team, along with co-counsel from Disability Rights Texas and the Center for Public Representation, represented private plaintiffs in successfully reaching an interim settlement of a putative class action against Texas state officials, which was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on August 19, 2013. The U.S. Department of Justice joined the lawsuit against the state as a plaintiff-intervenor, and also played an integral part in the negotiations of the interim agreement. The lawsuit, Steward v. Perry, alleges that Texas state officials have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal laws both by segregating these individuals in nursing homes and by failing to provide them with the treatment and services they needed while there. The interim settlement agreement will improve living conditions for thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have been confined to Texas nursing facilities.

The interim agreement contains a number of commitments by the state that will positively affect numerous individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities living in nursing facilities across Texas, including:

  • Expanding community living options for individuals with intellectual disabilities and related conditions, 21 years of age or older, living in Texas nursing facilities;
  • Ensuring that medical, nursing and nutritional management services and supports are available in the community, so affected individuals can receive such services in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs;
  • Providing opportunities for affected individuals to engage in community activities to the fullest extent practicable;
  • Serving affected individuals in the most integrated setting possible, including facilitating options for living independently in the community;
  • Attempting to avoid admitting persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities to a nursing facility if those persons can appropriately live in the community; and
  • Providing educational and informational activities that address community living options for affected individuals in nursing facilities and their families.

The interim agreement is designed to resolve as many issues as possible related to the lawsuit for a limited time period, while still allowing the parties to seek a permanent resolution of the lawsuit pursuant to a comprehensive agreement.

Weil’s pro bono team, which included associates Robert Velevis and Casey Burton, worked alongside attorneys from Disability Rights Texas, the Center for Public Representation, and the U.S. Department of Justice.

This news appeared in the following outlets (may require registration/subscription):

  • Law360: Texas, DOJ Tentatively Settle Nursing Home ADA Challenge (August 19, 2013)
  • The Texas Tribune: Disabled Plaintiffs, State Reach Deal on Living Conditions (August 19, 2013)