Federal court grants class certification in lawsuit challenging segregation of Ohioans with developmental disabilities

March 30, 2018 / Ball v. Kasich

Today, Chief Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, granted class certification in Ball v. Kasich. With this ruling, the five named plaintiffs in the case now represent the interests of thousands of similarly-situated people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Ohio who desire to live in the community. Disability Rights Ohio (DRO) and its legal partners - the law firm of Sidley Austin, the Center for Public Representation (CPR), and attorney Sam Bagenstos - applaud the decision.

Judge Sargus certified a class of all adults with developmental disabilities in Ohio who want community-based services. Specifically, he 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.

His decision recognizes that, "If Ohio does not have enough 'community-based services required by the Plaintiff class,' this group is harmed." People with developmental disabilities have the right to live, work and pursue activities in their communities with the appropriate supports they need to be successful. Unfortunately, current state policies and funding often limit access to community-based services.

"We are pleased that the court has recognized the importance of community-based services and has provided a path forward for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to get the services they need to live and work in the community," says Kerstin Sjoberg-Witt, Director of Advocacy and Assistant Executive Director of Disability Rights Ohio. "The resolution of our case will determine whether the state is violating the rights of class members, and if so, fix that by expanding access to community-based services."

The Center for Public Representation was also counsel for the Plaintiff class in Lane v. Kitzbacher, a successful class action relied upon by Judge Sargus in his decision that expanded access to integrated and competitive employment and community services in Oregon. "The Court's class certification decision relies on important precedent in other Americans with Disabilities Act/Olmstead cases in certifying a class of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who share a common interest in receiving community-based services. We are pleased to see the class certification decision in Lane helped to inform the Court's decision today," says Cathy Costanzo, Executive Director of the Center for Public Representation.

"Today's decision is an important step forward for Ohioans with developmental disabilities," says Sam Bagenstos, Professor of Law and former Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice. "Ohio needs to do more to implement the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision and to provide community options to people with developmental disabilities."

The class action lawsuit by six Ohioans with intellectual and developmental disabilities was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on March 31, 2016, against Governor John Kasich and the Directors of the Ohio Departments of Medicaid, Developmental Disabilities, and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities.

For more information about this case, visit our website.


Disability Rights Ohio is the federally and state designated Protection and Advocacy System and Client Assistance Program for the State of Ohio. The mission of Disability Rights Ohio is to advocate for the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities in Ohio. Disability Rights Ohio provides legal advocacy and rights protection to a wide range of people with disabilities. www.disabilityrightsohio.org

The Center for Public Representation is a non-profit, public interest law firm that seeks to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities - especially those who are institutionalized and discriminated against - and to enforce their legal rights to exercise choice and self-determination in all aspects of their lives. www.centerforpublicrep.org

About Sidley Austin LLP: With 1,900 lawyers in 19 offices worldwide, Sidley has built a reputation as a premier legal adviser for global businesses and financial institutions. As global citizens, the firm also recognizes its profound responsibility to use its skills and experience to provide legal services to the underserved and disadvantaged individuals and organizations. Sidley's lawyers and staff devote more than 100,000 hours to pro bono projects annually and play a vital role in people's lives throughout the world, including through death penalty appeals, political asylum matters, civil rights litigation and veterans' benefits appeals. www.sidley.com

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