Speaking out for People with
 Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Illinois Judge sides with choice, rejects settlement

Update: Judge accepts revised settlement; preserves choice

Illinois Judge sides with choice; rejects proposed settlement and decertifies class

Residents of Illinois’ private facilities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families celebrated an early-July decision in Ligas v. Maram. The lawsuit, filed by Illinois’ Protection & Advocacy against the State of Illinois, has concerned families of private facility residents after learning of its filing in 2005. The lawsuit, filed by just nine plaintiffs, was filed on behalf of a class of 6,000 people.

The parties (plaintiffs and the state) proposed a settlement in December 2008. In response, 2,500 written objections were submitted and 250 people showed up in court on July 1, 2009 to register their objections with the judge.  VOR objectors were represented pro bono at the Fairness Hearing by Judith Sherwin, an attorney from the law firm of Shefsky & Froelich (Chicago, IL). Most other attorneys for the objectors also participated pro bono.

Just one week later, in a three page decision, the Chief Judge Holderman issued an opinion rejecting the proposed settlement and decertifying the class, relying, in part, on the Olmstead decision. Objectors could not have asked for more.

"By decertifying the class, we believe the judge recognized that the disabled community -- like any community -- is too varied to be treated as one monolith," said Bill Choslovsky, an attorney for Misericordia families, a private facility in Chicago, Illinois. "It also recognizes that when it comes to caring for our most vulnerable members of society, one size does not fit all, and true choice is a two way street; it recognizes that the disabled are too varied to be shoe-horned into a settlement against their will that might help only some at the expense of others."