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Ball v. DeWine Update - April 2020

DRO is pleased to announce that the Honorable Judge Sargus granted final approval to a comprehensive settlement agreement in this class action lawsuit on Friday, April 24th, 2020. The full final approval and order is now available. 

DRO, in partnership with the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP, the Center for Public Representation, and attorney Sam Bagenstos brought this lawsuit in March 2016 on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, and The Ability Center of Greater Toledo.

The parties, including the state of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM), Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), and the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (OACBDD), have agreed to continue and expand programs that will allow more people with developmental disabilities the option to live and work in their communities with the supports they need.

For more information on this landmark agreement, please read our full press release.


In March of 2016, DRO filed a class-action lawsuit against the state on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities who were unnecessarily segregated or at risk of segregation. The suit was aimed at expanding access to community-based supports for those who want them. Our reasons for filing this lawsuit were based on the following facts:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Supreme Court Olmstead Decision provide people with disabilities a legal right to community-based, integrated services.
  • For many years before this lawsuit, individuals in institutional settings called Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) had almost no options to access community-based supports.
  • And, Ohioans who asked to be moved out of an ICF and into the community with the supports they needed, waited an average of 13 years to receive the community-based Medicaid waiver they needed to do so. 

In 2018, the Court certified a class of individuals who, after receiving options counseling, express an interest in community-based supports. DRO and its co-counsel currently represent this class.

In October 2019, we were pleased to share that after three years, we had reached a settlement with the state. This settlement is designed to increase class members’ access to community-based supports. It also expands access to information about service options, including options for living and working in the community.

That settlement is still intact. However, the Federal Judge overseeing the case has requested certain changes to its terms before giving final approval. Specifically, the Court wanted to address concerns voiced by a group of parents who, while not part of the class itself, are worried about the settlement and its potential impact on their family members in ICFs.

We heard the Judge. And, listened to those who are worried. The settlement is not intended to force any particular service option. In order to further clarify this and address those concerns, we have agreed to include the following assurances:

  • The State will request the same ICF daily rate in making its budget requests during the term of the settlement.
  • Nothing in the settlement is intended to force a person to forgo or relinquish ICF services, or to remove the ICF option in the future.
  • No one currently living in an ICF will be required to accept community-based supports as part of the settlement’s options counseling process.
  • Individuals who testified against the proposed settlement can be excluded from options counseling. 

Both DRO and the state filed their briefs in support of the settlement with these reassurances today. The matter is now back in the Judge's hands as we await his decision.

ball v. DeWine update - OcTOBER 2019

DRO is pleased to announce that the judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, has granted preliminary approval of a settlement in our community integration class action lawsuit, Ball v. DeWine. Disability Rights Ohio (DRO), the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP, the Center for Public Representation (CPR), and attorney Sam Bagenstos came together to file this class action. This lawsuit was filed on behalf of people with developmental disabilities and their families and The Ability Center of Greater Toledo.

Please see more information below:

Notice to Class Members

Proposed Settlement Agreement

 Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement

Third Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement

Press Release Announcing Preliminary Settlement Approval - October 18, 2019

Overview of the situation

In Ohio currently, people with developmental disabilities (e.g. Down Syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, or other chronic mental or physical impairments that on a long-term basis affect their ability to function self-sufficiently) have two residential options when they apply for services: receiving them in an Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) or in their homes and communities. The state of Ohio offers immediate placement in institutions, but years-long waits for home- and community-based services.

Overview of Ball v. DeWine

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals with developmental disabilities are entitled to receive state-funded care in an “integrated setting”: living, learning and working in and among their community. By forcing those who want community-based services to wait for years, the state of Ohio effectively denies them the assistance they need.

In 2016, Disability Rights Ohio (DRO), along with its partners, brought suit on behalf of six individuals and the Ability Center of Greater Toledo against Ohio state officials, including the governor, for failure to comply with the ADA. DRO sought to make the lawsuit a class action suit, enabling us to defend the rights of all Ohioans with developmental disabilities who are interested in living in the community but instead are institutionalized or at risk of being institutionalized.

History of the case

After the lawsuit was filed on March 31, 2016, the state defendants argued that the case against them should be dismissed. On March 23, 2017, Chief Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., rejected the state defendants’ arguments and allowed the lawsuit to continue. On March 30, 2018, the judge certified a class of:

All Medicaid-eligible adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities residing in the state of Ohio who, on or after March 31, 2016, are qualified for home and community-based services, and, after receiving options counseling, express that they are interested in community-based services.

Who is affected

Hundreds, if not thousands, of Ohioans with developmental disabilities who currently live in institutions want to move into their communities. And many of approximately 6,000 Ohioans with developmental disabilities currently in institutions have never been told that living in the community is even an option. Thousands more have asked for home- and community-based services but remain on waiting lists for years. Many of these individuals face the risk of being moved to an institution because they cannot access the home- and community-based services they need.

Why it matters

At Disability Rights Ohio, we believe that this case centers on freedom of choice. When people with developmental disabilities ask for help and are given no other option but to live in an institution, away from their families and friends, that is segregation. Such enforced separation deprives these individuals of the support and engagement of living and working among people of all different abilities. Likewise, all of Ohio’s communities lose out when we force those with developmental disabilities to spend their lives behind closed doors.

The alternative

Our vision is to enable Ohioans to have more choices for where and how they want to receive care and services. It’s that simple. We do not seek to close ICFs or remove anyone from an ICF unwillingly, and the Court’s certified class only includes individuals who want community-based services.

Disability Rights Ohio wants to empower Ohioans with developmental disabilities to:

  • live in the community that they want, with the care that they need
  • find a job in the community with the help that they need
  • pursue activities in the community with the support that they need

In Ohio and around the country, when individuals have the opportunity to live, work, and participate in their communities with community-based supports, they and their families overwhelmingly report being satisfied, even those who initially expressed concerns about leaving institutional care.

What you can do

DRO believes that when the rights of those with developmental disabilities are infringed upon, we have a responsibility to stand up to protect them. When we rally together in advocacy and action, we preserve the equality and dignity of all Ohioans. Please join us.

Letters and Court Documents

Letter to the state requesting negotiations - July 1, 2014

Complaint - March 31, 2016

Response to state's motions to dismiss - July 27, 2016

Motion for class certification - August 22, 2016

Judge's Opinion and Order - Motions to Dismiss Denied - March 23, 2017

Reply and Supplemental Evidence in Support of Motion for Class Certification - October 20, 2017

Amicus brief from The Arc of Ohio, The Arc of the United States and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law - November 9, 2017

Supplemental Brief in Support of Motion for Class Certification - January 23, 2018

Opinion and Order to Certify Class - March 30, 2018

Modified Settlement Agreement - January 10, 2020

Defendants' Brief in Support of Final Approval of Modified Settlement  - January 10, 2020

Plaintiffs' Brief in Support of Final Approval of Modified Settlement  - January 10, 2020

Judge's Final Approval and Order - April 24,2020

Media Releases and Fact Sheets

Due to the election of new governor, beginning January 1, 2019, the lawsuit and documents from Ball v. Kasich are now titled as Ball v. DeWine

Press release on filing of Ball v. Kasich - March 31, 2016

Press release on amicus brief from The Arc of Ohio, The Arc of the United States and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law - November 9, 2017

Press release on class certification decision - March 30, 2018

Related Information

Transition to Independence - report from DRO partner, the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council

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