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Client Successes, Press Releases

Carl Solano Assists More than 1,000 PA Institutionalized Mental Health Patients from Being Removed from Residential Programs

09/26/2014

On September 25, Schnader Appellate Chair Carl A. Solano and attorneys from Sidley Austin secured a settlement requiring the state to enable hundreds of Pennsylvania’s intellectually disabled residents to remain in their current intermediate-care programs or integrate into community-based care.

 

More than 1,000 intellectually-disabled individuals currently reside and receive treatment in intermediate care facilities for the intellectually disabled (ICFs/ID) that are run by Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare (DPW).  The plaintiffs in Benjamin v. Pa. Department of Public Welfare (M.D. Pa.) were four of those residents who sought transfer out of the ICFs/ID to community facilities.  In 2011, they negotiated a settlement with DPW that created a risk that hundreds of other ICF/ID residents who did not wish to be transferred would be relocated even though they, their families, and their guardians opposed that result and believed it would deprive them of access to optimal care.  Mr. Solano and Sidley intervened on behalf of several of those other residents, obtained a decision by the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturning the 2011 settlement, and negotiated a new settlement that protected the rights of all ICF/ID residents to choose to remain under ICF/ID care or to opt to relocate and that created substantial procedural safeguards governing both options.  The agreement assures that institutional placement may be maintained for those needing a higher level of care than may be obtained outside the institutions.

 

“Many of the Commonwealth’s ICF/ID residents affected by the original settlement are incapable of any reasonable measure of understanding or self care,” said Mr. Solano. “For many, their aging parents and relatives literally feared for the lives of their loved ones if their ability to maintain care in State ICFs/ID was not assured.” 

In approving the new settlement, Judge John E. Jones III observed, “The agreement approved today is substantially more robust and comprehensive than its predecessor, and, significantly, the result of a far more inclusive process.  . . . [A]ll counsel have distinguished themselves by their exemplary work in a case that evoked justifiable passion.  Their spirit and collaboration resulted in a meticulously drafted agreement which very tellingly is supported by all, including this Court.” 

This new settlement will now provide significant protection to some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens.