An organization for the mentally ill sued the State of New York on behalf of over 4,000 mentally ill people living in 21 New York City adult homes. The organization claimed that the New York State Department of Health and Office of Mental Health referred mentally ill residents to licensed, privately run adult houses, after release from psychiatric institutions. They claimed that the system unnecessarily segregated those houses from the greater community, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The state asked the court to dismiss the case without a trial. The state claimed that the organization lacked standing to sue and that, because the homes were privately run and because the state didn’t require anyone to live in them, they weren’t subject to the ADA.
The court ruled against the state. The federal Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act authorized the organization to sue on behalf of the mentally ill. And the state controlled funding for adult homes and supported housing, which determined the setting for providing those services. The private homes were part of a state system that the state planned and funded. The organization could proceed with the lawsuit.
Disability Advocates v. Paterson: ___ F. Supp.2d ___, 2009 WL 414682 (2/19/09) (E.D.N.Y.; Garaufius, J)