Tennessee is closer than ever to ending a longstanding lawsuit that has cost the state more than $45 million.
According to the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, a federal judge partially dismissed the so-called Clover Bottom lawsuit Friday.
The only thing holding the full dismissal of the lawsuit back is the pending closure of Greene Valley Developmental Center.
The more than 20 year-old lawsuit alleged abuse and civil rights violations at state institutions that housed people with intellectual disabilities. The state closed Clover Bottom Developmental Center in Nashville in November.
As part of the terms of an agreement to end the lawsuit DIDD agreed to close Greene Valley too. The Greene County facility is scheduled to close at the end of June, but DIDD has asked for a six-month extension.
“We still believe that we can be on schedule for June 30, 2016,” DIDD Communications Director Cara Kumari said. “However, as I’ve mentioned before, out of an abundance of caution we have only asked for that extension. We would never put anybody’s health and safety in jeopardy when it came time to transition. We won’t put their lives in jeopardy for a deadline, so if necessary out of an abundance of caution, because a lot of things can happen during the transition process, we have asked for a six-month extension.”
The lawsuit allows DIDD to request a second six-month extension if necessary. Rep. David Hawk, (R) – District 5, thinks that request is inevitable.
“Many of the private care community homes that are being promised to care for residents transitioning from GVDC haven’t even begun construction yet,” Rep. Hawk said. “My experience with the state’s building of similar home is that it will take at least a year to build these homes. It is my understanding that 68 residents remain at GVDC. 32 are supposed to locate within Greene County. Most of the private care providers in Greene County are still in the certificate of need process with no building of the homes even started yet.”
As the state finalizes plans to close Greene Valley and exit the lawsuit altogether DIDD reports it went above and beyond the lawsuit’s requirements to make other changes that will improve the lives of more than just the 8,000 people the state currently helps.
According to DIDD, employees trained law enforcement officers from across the state about helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. More than 100 law enforcement agencies took part in that training last year, according to the state. Among other things, the agency also created training for doctors, caregivers and families to try and improve outcomes for that group of people.
“We wanted to agree to things that would help everyone in the State of Tennessee who has an intellectual or developmental disability whether they receive our services or not or whether they want to receive services or not,” Kumari said.Copyright WJHL 2016. All rights reserved.