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DC Appeals Court Upholds Class Certification for District Nursing Home Residents

Washington, DC — On June 26, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a precedent-setting decision that grants class certification to thousands of Washington, DC residents with disabilities. The plaintiffs, represented by Arent Fox LLP, are asking the District in Thorpe, et al. v. District of Columbia to comply with long-standing federal law that allows individuals with disabilities to live in the community rather than in state-run nursing homes. The District’s compliance with this law would end the unnecessary institutionalization of nearly 3,000 Medicaid beneficiaries in Washington, DC nursing facilities. The decision can be found here.
The plaintiffs are represented by Complex Litigation partner Barbara S. Wahl, associate Brian D. Schneider, and associate Alison Lima Andersen, who are serving as class counsel with co-counsel from AARP Foundation Litigation and University Legal Services. The suit involves potentially thousands of DC nursing home patients who remain isolated from their families because the District has failed to provide in-home help with basic services, at less taxpayer cost than the current nursing home care.
In a 2014 decision granting the plaintiffs class certification, US District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle noted that, of 256 residents who wanted to move to community care in 2012, only 16 had been transferred. She held that at least two questions raised by the plaintiffs satisfied a class action standard of commonality: did the District fail to offer sufficient discharge planning and did it fail to inform and provide nursing home residents with meaningful choices of community-based long-term care alternatives? 
Nearly 15 years ago in Olmstead v. L.C., the US Supreme Court ruled that state and local governments must provide services to people with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. In Thorpe, Washington, DC nursing home residents are seeking to obtain systemic changes that will bring the District into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide Medicaid services to disabled people in a way that connects members with community-based supports and long-term care services.
Arent Fox’s Complex Litigation group has been recognized by Chambers USA for its “streamlined” approach that delivers “quality” results. With more than 125 litigators, the practice boasts a deep bench and international reach while having extensive experience in high-stakes litigation before federal and state courts and regulatory agencies. The group is especially proficient at managing parallel litigation in multiple jurisdictions and represents clients in matters that include health care, life sciences, intellectual property, trade, automotive, insurance, and human rights abuses.

About Arent Fox
Founded in 1942, Arent Fox is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and the law intersect. With more than 400 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to a global roster of corporations, governments, and trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.


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