United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
GIBNEY JR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case began when the United States, through the Department of
Justice ("DO J"), filed a complaint alleging that
the Commonwealth of Virginia violated the Americans with
Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101,
et seq. The parties simultaneously submitted a
consent decree for the Court's consideration, which would
change the way the Commonwealth provides services to its
intellectually and developmentally disabled populations. The
Court permitted a group of certain disabled citizens to
intervene (the "Interveners") and oppose the
proposed decree. After careful consideration, the Court
approved the consent decree. (Dk. No. 112.) The Court closed
the case, but continues to monitor the parties' progress
under the decree.
Commonwealth has since decided to close four of its five
training centers, which housed large disabled populations.
The Intervenors filed a motion for injunctive relief to
prevent discharges and transfers from the training centers as
they close. The Commonwealth opposed the
motion. For the reasons stated below, the Court
denies the Intervenors' motion.
Court described the background of this case at length in the
Order approving the consent decree (Dk. No. 112), but will
reiterate pertinent facts here. The Commonwealth developed
training centers decades ago to provide safe living
environments for disabled citizens. The Intervenors resided
in these training centers, and their families appreciated the
treatment and safety that the training centers provided. Over
time, experts in the field developed new modalities of care
and preferred to allow disabled citizens to live in the
broader community, rather than in restricted facilities.
Moreover, Congress, through the ADA, "explicitly
identified unjustified 'segregation' of persons with
disabilities as a 'for[m] of discrimination.'"
Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581, 600 (1999). The ADA
thus encouraged "opportunities for people with
developmental disabilities to enjoy the benefits of community
living." Id. at 599. As a result, the
Commonwealth accepted fewer individuals into training
centers, and discharged many residents to community
2008, the DOJ began investigating Virginia's training
centers and ultimately concluded that the centers violated
the ADA by preventing disabled citizens from being part of
the community. The DOJ demanded that Virginia change its
system, and the Commonwealth essentially concurred with the
DOJ's goal of community-based services.
and Commonwealth agreed to a consent decree. Their agreement
calls for the Commonwealth to increase the number of Medicaid
waivers in Virginia, which assist disabled citizens by
subsidizing the care and services they need. The decree
focuses the Commonwealth's efforts on keeping disabled
individuals in the community, and outlines how the Department
of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
("DBHDS"), and the local community service boards
("CSBs"), will share responsibility for community
services. It further requires an independent reviewer to
report to the Court regarding the decree's
Intervenors opposed the decree because they believed its
terms would not benefit residents of the training centers.
They argued that the decree would require their removal from
the training centers, which would harm their well-being, as
they regarded the training centers as their homes. The Court
considered these arguments, reviewed letters and amicus
briefs for and against the decree, and toured facilities. The
Court also held a fairness hearing, during which it allowed
the United States, the Commonwealth, and the Intervenors to
share their positions. Following these proceedings and after
careful consideration, the Court approved the consent decree
in August 2012.
that time, the Commonwealth has planned to cease residential
operations at four of its five training centers, including
the Central Virginia Training Center ("CVTC"). In
August 2016, DBHDS notified authorized representatives of
CVTC residents that its nursing facility would close. If the
residents or their representatives did not select alternative
placement within the time allotted, DBHDS transferred them to
Hiram Davis Medical Center.
two deaths that occurred after the transfers from CVTC began,
the Intervenors now argue that Hiram Davis is inferior to
CVTC. The Intervenors ask the Court for various forms of
injunctive relief, with the goal of undoing and preventing
further allegedly forcible or illegal transfers to Hiram
Davis or other facilities that do not provide care comparable
to the care CVTC provided.
Interveners' motion asserts violations of (1) Virginia
Code § 37.2-837(A)(3), which provides that individuals
shall not be discharged from training centers against their
will; and (2) Chapter 639 of the 2014 Acts of Assembly (the
"Act"), which requires DBHDS to certify, before
transferring training center residents, that the receiving
facility provides a comparable quality of care, and that
DBHDS has disclosed all legal placement options. The
Commonwealth opposes the motion on the grounds that (1) the
Intervenors lack standing; (2) the Court does not have
subject matter jurisdiction over the motion; and (3) the
Intervenors do not meet the standard for injunctive relief.
The Court will consider each argument in turn.
III limits federal courts to hearing cases or controversies,
which means that parties invoking a federal court's
authority must establish standing. Ansley v. Warren,
861 F.3d 512, 517 (4th Cir. 2017) (citing Ariz. Christian
Sch. Tuition Org. v. Winn, 563 U.S. 125, 133 (2011)). To
do so, a party must prove a "concrete and particularized
injury that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct of
the defendant and is likely to be redressed by a favorable
judicial decision." Id. (internal quotations
and citations omitted). Courts consider intervenors parties
to lawsuits until the party on whose side intervention
occurred no longer remains in the suit. Diamond v.
Charles, 476 U.S. 54, 68 (1986). At that point,
intervenors must demonstrate that they independently fulfill
the standing requirements. Id. In other words,
intervenors continue as parties as long as the suit is
"alive." Shaw v. Hunt, 154 F.3d 161, 166
(4th Cir. 1998).
Court permitted the Intervenors to intervene before entering
the consent decree, and added them as defendants to this
suit. (Dk. No. 65.) Certain out-of-circuit cases have deemed
a consent decree insufficient to establish an ongoing case or
controversy, but this case is distinct. E.g., Dillard v.
Chilton Cty. Comm 'n,495 F.3d 1324, 1336 (11th Cir.
2007). Here, the Court did not merely retain jurisdiction in
case the parties asked the Court to enforce the decree;
rather, the Court actively monitors implementation of the