On March 31, 2016, six people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the Ability Center of Greater Toledo filed a class action lawsuit asserting that the state of Ohio is violating federal law by denying them the services they need to live, work and socialize in integrated settings in their communities. The suit, known as Ball v. Kasich, was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. It was initiated on behalf of thousands of Ohioans with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are institutionalized in or are at risk of institutionalization in Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) with eight or more beds. The plaintiffs assert that the state is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court in the landmark case of Olmstead v. L.C.
What is a class action lawsuit?
A class action is a lawsuit in which one or more people (the “plaintiffs”) sue on behalf of a group of people (the “class”) with the same kind of legal problem. A class action allows people to join together as a group so that common legal issues can be addressed without multiple lawsuits. The people who bring the suit seek to protect their own legal interests and rights, as well as the legal interests and rights of the class. The court must consider the entire class when making decisions about the lawsuit, and the decisions of the court affect the entire class.
Why bring a class action lawsuit?
There are serious problems with the way Ohio provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities – problems that affect a large group of people, including the six named plaintiffs in Ball v. Kasich.
About 5,800 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live in large ICFs in Ohio, and about 2,500 people in ICFs are on waiting lists for home and community-based services.
About 22,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have unmet service needs. Thousands of these individuals are currently able to live in the community but are at risk of having to move into an ICF if their needs are not met.
The plaintiffs in this case are asking Ohio to change the way services are provided to Ohioans with intellectual and developmental disabilities so they have real options to live, work and pursue activities in the community, with the care and support they need. It is not possible to seek such systems changes through a lawsuit brought only by an individual.
Is Ball v. Kasich a class action lawsuit?
Before the case becomes a class action, the plaintiffs must ask the judge to “certify” the class, and they must meet several requirements. The plaintiffs have to show that there are enough people whose situations are similar that a judge will allow them to represent the group all together. The plaintiffs have submitted a proposed class definition to the court.
Who are the proposed “class” members in Ball v. Kasich?
If the plaintiffs’ proposed class is “certified,” individuals will be considered members of the class if all of the following apply to them:
- They are an Ohio resident
- They are a person with an intellectual and developmental disability
- They are Medicaid eligible
- They are an adult
- On or after March 31, 2016, they reside in an Intermediate Care Facility with eight or more beds OR are at serious risk of living in an Intermediate Care Facility with eight or more beds
- They have not documented their opposition to receiving integrated, community-based services.
How can a class action be resolved?
Class actions are commonly resolved in one of two ways. One way that parties can resolve a class action is by negotiating an agreement called a “settlement.” Before a settlement can be finalized, the judge must notify the class of the proposed settlement and hold a hearing to make sure that the settlement is fair. The judge allows those who want to be heard to state their positions and, if they have them, their objections. The case can be settled only with the court’s approval.
Another way that parties can resolve a class action is by going to trial. A trial provides the plaintiffs and the defendants the opportunity to present evidence and arguments to the court. The court considers this information and makes a decision.
How long will it take to be resolved?
Class action lawsuits can take many years to resolve. The parties and the court typically agree on a proposed schedule early in the case.
You can contact Disability Rights Ohio at 1-800-282-9181 (TTY 800-858-3542) with any questions. Press 2 for our intake line.