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Jensen v. Minnesota Department of Human Services

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 18, 2014

James and Lorie Jensen, as parents, guardians and next friends of Bradley J. Jensen; James Brinker and Darren Allen, as parents, guardians and next friends of Thomas M. Allbrink; Elizabeth Jacobs, as parent, guardian and next friend of Jason R. Jacobs; and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
Minnesota Department of Human Services, an agency of the State of Minnesota; Director, Minnesota Extended Treatment Options, a program of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, an agency of the State of Minnesota; Clinical Director, the Minnesota Extended Treatment Options, a program of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, an agency of the State of Minnesota; Douglas Bratvold, individually, and as Director of the Minnesota Extended Treatment Options, a program of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, an agency of the State of Minnesota; Scott TenNapel, individually and as Clinical Director of the Minnesota Extended Treatment Options, a program of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, an agency of the State of Minnesota; and the State of Minnesota, Defendants.

Mark R. Azman, Esq., and Shamus P. O'Meara, Esq., O'Meara Leer Wagner & Kohl, PA, counsel for Plaintiffs.

Aaron Winter, Scott H. Ikeda, and Anthony R. Noss, Assistant Attorneys General, Minnesota Attorney General's Office, counsel for State Defendants.

Samuel D. Orbovich, Esq., and Christopher A. Stafford, Esq., Fredrikson & Byron, PA, counsel for Defendant Scott TenNapel.

ORDER

DONOVAN W. FRANK, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is the Court Monitor's August 6, 2014 Report to the Court: Approval of Revised Olmstead Plan (" Olmstead Plan Report") (Doc. No. 333) recommending Court approval of the State of Minnesota's proposed modifications to Minnesota's Olmstead Plan ("Proposed Olmstead Plan") (Doc. No. 326-1). For the reasons discussed below, the Court declines to approve the Proposed Olmstead Plan as it is currently written.

BACKGROUND

In the Court's December 5, 2011 Final Approval Order for the Stipulated Class Action Settlement Agreement ("Settlement Agreement"), the Court ordered the following with respect to the Olmstead Plan:

Within eighteen (18) months of the Court's approval of this Agreement, the State and the Department shall develop and implement a comprehensive Olmstead Plan that uses measurable goals to increase the number of people with disabilities receiving services that best meet their individual needs and in the "Most Integrated Setting, " and is consistent and in accord with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 582 (1999).

(Doc. No. 136, Ex. A at 18.) Since the Court's December 5, 2011 Order, the Court and the Court Monitor have reiterated these requirements in numerous orders and reports. ( See, e.g., Doc. No. 311 at 2 (reiterating that the Olmstead Plan must include "measurable goals" and providing examples of such goals); Doc. No. 212 at 9 (reiterating that a comprehensive Olmstead Plan must use measurable goals).)

Pursuant to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the State and the Department of Human Services ("DHS") were to develop and implement a comprehensive Olmstead Plan within eighteen months of the Court's approval of the Settlement Agreement. (Doc. No. 136, Ex. A at 18.) After the State and DHS failed to complete this directive by the original due date, the Court ordered the State and DHS to file the Olmstead Plan with the Court by November 1, 2013-five months after the due date-for the Court's review and approval. (Doc. No. 224 at 5.) The State submitted the Olmstead Plan to the Court on October 31, 2013. (Doc. No. 246-1.) On January 22, 2014, the Court provisionally approved the Olmstead Plan, subject to the Court's review of the State's modifications and any submissions by Plaintiffs' Class Counsel, and directed the State to file a revised Olmstead Plan by July 15, 2014. (Doc. No. 265 at 3-4.)

On July 10, 2014, the State filed the Proposed Olmstead Plan that is now before the Court. (Doc. No. 326-1.) In response to the Proposed Olmstead Plan, the Plaintiff Class submitted a letter to the Court on July 24, 2014, "reiterat[ing] the Settlement Class positions... in [its] prior letters to the Court and Court Monitor concerning the Olmstead Plan" (Doc. No. 332 at 11) and observing that "issues [] remain, including a necessary recommitment and focus needed to complete and implement an Olmstead Plan using measurable goals" ( id. at 10). Specifically, the Plaintiff Class referenced a February 25, 2014 letter to the Court in which the Plaintiff Class expressed concerns that "the Olmstead Plan be strategic, measurable, and clearly state who is responsible, with a listing of specific timelines, and how the Plan will be implemented, and specific resources needed" (Doc. No. 276 at 3), and an October 22, 2013 letter to the Court Monitor in which the Plaintiff Class criticized DHS' "cavalier approach to the development of the Court ordered Olmstead Plan" and the resulting "rushed, incomplete and deficient Olmstead Plan" (Doc. No. 276-1 at 2, 6).

On August 6, 2014, the Court Monitor filed the Olmstead Plan Report with the Court, recommending final approval of the Proposed Olmstead Plan. (Doc. No. 333 at 2.) However, in the Olmstead Plan Report, the Court Monitor observed that "[s]ome concerns remain." ( Id. at 3.) The Court Monitor recommended "refinement with regard to [the Olmstead Plan's] structure and specificity, " including the need for measurable goals, new methods for ...


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