Parent NON-involvement in Brown v. Bush, a P&A lawsuit
By Don Stover
Stover Objectors – proposed Intervenors – Brown v. Bush
The Advocacy Center (Florida’s Protection and Advocacy (P&A) agency) and the Agency for Persons with Disabilities were two parties in Brown v. Bush, a federal lawsuit filed on March 24, 1998) (formerly Brown v. Chiles). This lawsuit resulted in the closure of the Community of Landmark. On June 16, 2004, a settlement agreement required that the state develop a plan by June 30, 2005 for the closure of Gulfcoast Center no later than July 1, 2010.
The families and guardians of Gulf Coast residents, or other Florida Developmental Service Institutions (DSI’s) were not invited to participate in negotiations. Families learned about the settlement in the Ft. Myers News-Press in July 2004. In October 2004, notices of a “fairness hearing” to consider the settlement were mailed to residents, parents and guardians. A group of Gulfcoast families and guardians – the Stover Objectors – quickly arranged for legal representation and organized opposition to the settlement agreement. By November 23, more than 200 letters were sent to the federal court in Miami. Counsel for the Stover Objectors also appeared in federal court at the Fairness hearing on December 10, 2004.