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Thursday, June 24, 2010
Judge Orders State of Florida to Provide Community Services to Jacksonville Woman at Risk of Institutionalization

WASHINGTON - The state of Florida must provide Michele Haddad with services that will enable her to remain in her home, a U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, Fla., ruled Wednesday. Haddad, who has quadriplegia as a result of a motorcycle accident with a drunk driver in 2007, has successfully resided in the community since the accident, but is at risk of entry into a nursing home due to changes in her caregiver situation. Haddad, who has been on the waiting list for Medicaid community-based waiver services for two years, notified the state of her increased need for services, but was told that community services would only be available if she was willing to enter a nursing home for 60 days.

The court ordered the state to provide community-based services as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act's (ADA) integration mandate as set forth in Olmstead v. L.C. The United States argued in a brief filed on May 25, 2010, that Haddad would suffer irreparable harm if forced to enter a nursing home to receive necessary services.

The court issued this order in the week that marks the 11th anniversary of the landmark Olmstead decision.

“In the Olmstead case, the court recognized that the unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities stigmatizes those individuals as unworthy of participation in community life,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “By supporting Ms. Haddad in this case, we seek to ensure that individuals with disabilities can receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate, where they can participate in their communities, interact with individuals who do not have disabilities, and make their own day to day choices.”

The U.S. government’s participation in this case is part of the administration’s efforts across the nation to affirm the fundamental right for Americans with disabilities to live independently, in what the president has deemed “The Year of Community Living.”

The full and fair enforcement of the ADA and its mandate to integrate individuals with disabilities is a major priority of the Civil Rights Division. The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination by public entities. People interested in finding out more about the ADA can call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov/.

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